Swim Or Sink Approach To Leadership Development Is Not Sustainable

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“I have been thrown in the deep end and I have to lead a team and make a success of it. I do not know where to start and it feels scary because I have to lead people who previously were my peers”. These are the words of Lady L who had just been promoted into her first team leadership role at the pharmaceutical distribution company where she works as the Distribution Manager.

She feels overwhelmed and when she approaches her direct leader, she does not get clear guidance because her superior is still trying to get her footing into leadership herself. 

Lady L is not alone and many of us were thrust into the people leadership arena without adequate preparation. Because we were good at performing our functional responsibilities; someone believed that we could also lead. Performing functional tasks with exception does not equate to one becoming an exceptional leader. With this approach, people are thrown in the deep end which is a way to kill their spirits or the spirits of those they are supposed to lead.

This swim or sink approach to leadership development is not sustainable. There are people who learned through trial and error and became great leaders. On the other hand, this process led to people who are preoccupied with hiding their limitations, relying on their positional power while leaving bruised people behind.

Organisations that lack foresight leave leadership development to chance and the results are dire. You can choose to be intentional or accidental about it.   Visionary organisations know that sustainable success depends on building a pipeline of emerging leaders who can build a competitive edge.

Your organisation should have a clear leadership development philosophy that supports the business strategy and is driven by strong executive involvement.  The leadership of your organisation should sanction competencies that will address the strategic imperatives of the future.

 One size fits all development has never worked. Ensure that the development addresses various levels of the organisation.

A person such as Lady L should be equipped with the fundamental skills to help her become an effective leader.

Let me share the 4 fundamental skills that the Centre for Creative Leadership have researched and found to be important for every leader at every level:

#1. Self-awareness:  How do I use the principles of self-awareness to make conscious decisions about my leadership behaviour?

#2. Influence: How do I increase my leadership influence by building trust and leadership networks to lead others?

#3. Learning Agility: How do I continuously seek, make sense of, internalize, and apply lessons from a variety of resources?

#4. Communication: How do I use active listening, feedback, and vision to provide sound direction, firm alignment, and dedicated commitment?

This development should be supported by coaching which is essential to close the gap between the classroom exposure and on the job learning.

Engage us further about the 4 fundamental skills program and we will share more.

Tex Hlalele is a Life & Business Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Author. Book Tex for coaching and speaking engagements to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement on +2764 656 6174 or visit http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/contact.html. He is the author of the book, Face the person in the mirror.

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