- Leadership styles
- Emotional intelligence
- Motivating others
- Team building
- Communication skills (including persuasion)
- Time management
- Leading change
- Client skills
- Business development skills
- Organizational management skills
- Enabling leadership in others
Some things to avoid. Once again, there are some common approaches to leadership development programs that I would encourage you to avoid, or at least critically evaluate before committing yourself:
Don't waste your time and money on crash courses and quick fixes. Leadership development is a long-term process. Training seminars and books on leadership are useful tools in an overall program, but don't accomplish much on their own.
Don't take a smorgasbord approach to program content. Some firms bring in multiple speakers or have participants read different books. I'm certainly not against incorporating different perspectives, but I'd urge you to define some common themes and definitions and stick to them. Leadership is a complex topic. Your objective is to simplify it so that participants can better apply it.
Don't use the program to indoctrinate into the status quo. I've touched on this previously and repeat it here because it's a common trap. Clearly, you should seek to replicate the best aspects of your current management. And you want to reinforce the strengths of your values, culture, and practices. But since leadership is about change, you want to be careful about reining in your new leaders too much.
Don't put too much stock in personality typing schemes. Understanding your personality and the differences among people is certainly a valuable skill. But some leadership programs, in my opinion, put far too much emphasis on this aspect of dealing with people. Personality typing schemes are prone to making quick characterizations of people that minimize their individual uniqueness. I've participated in several of these and I've never been that easy to characterize. I assume this is true of many others. There is no substitute for getting to know people as individuals rather than as personality types.
Plus leaders are often dealing with groups of people where tailoring your approach to each personality type is difficult, if not impossible. Among the different approaches, the Myers-Briggs assessment is the most thoroughly researched. But studies also point to abuses of this system, so use it or any other with some restraint.
Don't allow participation and effort to diminish over the course of the program. Given an 8- to 12-month duration, it's natural to see some loss of momentum over time. But isn't one of the traits of effective leaders their ability to keep the effort going over the long term? I'd suggest changing the format, making the material increasingly practical and hands-on, stepping up active coaching, and maybe even taking a month off as ways to avoid a drop-off in interest in the latter months of the program.
In my next post we'll take a closer look at the third prong of an effective leadership development strategy--creating a supportive culture.