“Revolutionizing leadership” refers to the practice of seeking out, creating and supporting transformational change in how individuals and organizations perceive, practice and leverage leadership. This is the call to action: We bring leadership to others in a way that meets them where they are and elevates their thought to higher ideals of themselves and others, while positively impacting those around them.
The magic is in the act of bringing leadership to others, which forces us to continuously learn the new research, content, delivery systems and approaches. There is no prescription or model for revolutionizing leadership. It is a process and activity we all take part in, but calling it out as such draws a level of attention to the activity as well as intention to the outcome.
This will hopefully cause you to ask these question:
- How am I revolutionizing leadership for someone else? My organization? Myself?
- What personal beliefs about leadership do I need to challenge to be of most service to others?
- How am I facilitating their process and journey for radical change?
When we develop a leadership program, we typically work with the people who made the request and determine the specific competencies they would like to focus on, ensuring that they align well with the strategic direction of the business. We then create or purchase a set of courses, each designed to focus on one competency, and deliver the courses to leaders in the program. This is all very important work and should not be neglected.
This process, however, is mismatched to the actual leader’s world. Think about it: When leaders prepare for their day, do they see their work as a set of isolated skill sets, or do they see it in terms of experiences and interactions with others?
As we know from our colleagues in the field of neuroscience, human beings are hardwired to connect and make connections. Why would we create a learning experience that forces leaders to develop a specific skill in isolation? Don’t misunderstand; competencies have their place in learning, in terms of creating direction and clarity for the learner, but perhaps we should flip the focus when designing development programs.
What would it look like if, instead of designing our training around a specific competency, we developed it around improving a specific area of impact from the leader’s world? In other words, the leader’s development would be a set of experiences based on driving improvement in areas that are known to have the greatest impact on teams and their performance. Each area of impact answers the question, “How am I showing up today for my team?”
These areas of impact can be broken down into three areas:
This area focuses on work. Leaders examine how they are showing up for their teams in their perception, approach and contribution to work. They are given specific experiences that help them consider the following dynamics, while fine-tuning their skill sets:
- Shifting from individual contributor to leader
- The trappings of minutiae and transitioning from doer to leader
- The difference between strategic work and tactical or transactional work
- Creating development opportunities within the team
- Understanding talent and how to leverage it for work
- Building feedback and recognition into the employee experience
This area focuses leaders on understanding the force they bring to their teams. Here, they explore the experience of influence and how it impacts their teams:
- Understanding your approach to inciting action in their team
- Avoiding using their position of power to create action
- Learning about influence and how they use it
- Understanding the effectiveness of their influencing style
This area recognizes that leaders largely set the tone for their teams and drive their teams’ morale and mindset. When a leader has a defeatist mentality, the team is typically weighed down by similar feelings as well.
In this area, leaders learn how to:
- Presenting themselves to the team
- Create a productive collective mindset
- Understand their impact on team energy
- Maintain momentum
The practice of revolutionizing leadership does come with its challenges, especially if you are looking to roll out an alternative approach. For this reason, I recommend that you map out a plan for socializing the idea prior to making any large investments of time and resources:
- Align your proposal with your organization’s vision and practice of leadership.
- Ensure that you have built in a measurement framework to track results.
- Identify the key stakeholders/decision-makers.
- Create a plan to communicate with stakeholders in a way that’s most meaningful for them (for instance, in-person meetings over phone calls.
To make development programs more relevant for leaders, it’s helpful to consider alternative approaches that may resonate better. “Revolutionizing leadership” is a continuous practice and dedication to creating a meaningful learning experience.