Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leader-Led Development

We have all heard that a good leader must be able to tell a story. This is important when communicating an organization’s priorities, and creating a shared vision. In other words, leaders should assume a ‘teaching’ role . Evidence has shown that effective leaders always participate in developing leaders within their organizations. From an organizational perspective, this skill cascades throughout the organization as a leadership competency, from new managers to CxO’s.

As Noel Tichy writes[i]: “winning companies—those that consistently outperform competitors and reward shareholders—[have] moved beyond learning organizations to become teaching organizations. That’s because teaching organizations are more agile, come up with better strategies, and are able to implement them more effectively.”

This is reinforced by how people actually learn anything within their organizations. Most famously, the 70/20/10 learning concept , developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership, states that learning occurs in the following proportions:

·         70%  from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving. This is the most important aspect of any learning and development plan.
·         20% from feedback and from observing and working with role models.
·         10% from formal training.
As Bossidy and Charan confirm in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, “Keep in mind that 80% of learning takes place outside the classroom. Every leader and supervisor needs to be a teacher.”[ii]

Practically, how can leaders actively cultivate leader-led development? Here is a quick checklist.

Leaders can:

1.       Provide personalized, one-to-one development.
2.       Give and receive organizational knowledge.
3.       Drive participation and involvement in learning.
4.       Promote bi-directional learning.
5.       Increase mastery of content.
6.       Increase the speed of change.
7.       Create a culture of ongoing learning and teaching.
8.       Provide accessible and ongoing learning opportunities.

And not only does leader-led development benefit learners: teaching also improves leadership skills.

[i] Tichy, Noel. The Leadership Engine: How Winning Companies Build Leaders at Every Level. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1997.
[ii] Bossidy, Larry, and Charan, Ram. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Crown Business: New York, 2002.