- Just 35 percent of managers are engaged in their work.
- Only 40 percent strongly believe they have opportunities for growth.
- A third strongly believe they have a supervisor encouraging their development.
These are sobering numbers. They bring into focus the role that leadership development can play in business. Though the leader of the company may set a great example, the other managers will likely need additional training. Here are a few ways to tackle this.
Identify the path.
So what makes a great potential leader? There are many answers to that question. Huhman explores the Gallup report’s “rare combination” of characteristics.
“They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company,” writes Huhman. “The easier current managers and employees can spot these talents among their peers and within themselves, the sooner they can cultivate them. Provide employees with the tools necessary to identify and craft their natural talents to be used for leadership. Try an app like IlluminatedNation, which accesses employee job fit and provides guidance for each individual’s unique aptitude.”
Don’t overemphasize weaknesses.
Focusing a leadership development program on managers’ flaws may not always be the proper approach. Leadership development strategist Jack Zenger writes about this for Forbes, noting that “making weaknesses ‘less bad’” can result in “mediocre leaders.”
As he writes, “ … Our research shows that focusing on even a small number of signature strengths can produce extraordinary success. These are the goals that make the most dramatic and positive impact on the people around you. Yes, our data confirms that those who’ve worked on weaknesses do get better. However, those who worked on strengths increased their success by a multiplier of three. Additionally, working on strengths is significantly more fun and rewarding than working on something on which you are working to move the needle from wretched to minimal competence, as it is highly unlikely you will move from -7 to +10 in the course of correcting a fault. It is far more likely your hard work would take you to ‘0’ or ground level, where the flaw isn’t detracting from the ability for your other strengths to carry the day. In light of these considerations, what’s the right target for your own leadership development goals? Chances are, your best opportunities for breakout success will come from magnifying your greatest strengths, not from miring in the areas where you tend to be weak. If you’re willing to make an improvement, why not aim for the stars?”
It takes more than observing.
As managers get additional training, there may be a disconnect between what is being taught and implementing it in daily use. Brian Evje examines this for inc.com.
“There is a massive gap between seeing and doing,” writes Evje. “Too few people and organizations address this with deliberate, consistent, and constant leadership development. One particularly stubborn myth is that leadership is something one naturally gains over time, like graying hair. One survey of 17,000 global leaders found that the average age for their first leadership training was 42, ‘about 10 years after they began supervising people,’ and almost 20 years after they started experiencing leadership in organizations. That’s a long time to observe leaders who are figuring it out on their own, while picking up their bad habits. A better approach is to take charge of the proper way to learn about leadership.”
Be clear on your vision.
It’s a sign of a good leader when the staff knows just where the company is going. Without that, managers may feel left out in the cold.
As Huhman writes, “The perception of limited opportunities is a big factor in disengagement. If future leaders can’t see what they’re working toward, what’s the point? Help employees understand the organization’s overall vision so they can look at their job from a new perspective. Demonstrate how their role positively affects their peers and the organization’s goals as a whole. Show them how what they do is more than just a job — it’s a contribution to a greater good.”