By Anik Desjardins, Certified Coach, ACC, CHRP
We all know that the leadership of our managers has a direct impact on the work climate, engagement, loyalty, innovation, and on organizations’ performance. For almost two years now, we have been adapting to the technical aspects of teleworking, Teams meetings, remote follow-ups, etc. However, we have continued to manage the same way as before, with the same leadership approach. To rethink and adapt their leadership, organizations must provide their managers with room for thinking and adaptation.
How can we encourage this adaptation and create concrete as well as sustainable behavioural changes through a leadership development program? I suggest 5 keys for success.
- Aligning With Your Management Culture
A leadership development program must be fully aligned with the management culture that we want to bring to life within our organization. It must reflect the leadership behaviours we want to see flourish daily. As key players in promoting the organizational culture, executive and HR teams should be among the first participants in the program you are implementing. These teams set the tone by managing and modelling the expected behaviours. Integrating them as early as possible helps in supporting the development of managers across the entire organization. Subsequently, by training all the managers of your organization, you contribute to the creation of a common language that will bring learning to life in the long run, in addition to build a support network among colleagues.
- Fostering Personalized Learning
No one comes into a leadership development program with the same background and skills. Everyone learns at their own pace, have their own ability to make introspection, have the will to evolve, is open to a certain level of newness, and have a different level of stepping out of their comfort zone. Some are more visual or auditory, other thoughtful or practical. No one learns the same way. How does your leadership development program take this important element into consideration and personalize learning for each participant? In the programs that I implement with my colleagues at o2Coaching, we use a multitude of different learning tools. As for, our participants have access to training video capsules, self-assessments, readings, a book, podcasts, and both individual and group coaching. I receive regular feedback from participants who say they are convinced that the diversity of learning tools at their disposal is part of the success of the approach. Everyone identifies their own areas of improvement and finds a way that matches with their own learning style.
- Enabling a Shift From Theory to Practical Integration
A leadership development program must obviously involve learning concepts, models, and theories, as traditional leadership development programs have always done. These must be simple, coherent, and concrete. That said, for learned concepts to translate into real changes in behaviour, they must be applied on a personal and concrete basis in action, in the work context and in everyday life. This become possible through individual and group coaching. We adapt to each participants’ level and guide them to experiment the concepts by applying them to their own realities. We give them time to take a step back, to think differently, and to be creative about their challenges. This is where integration and evolution occur.
- Offering Flexibility and Efficiency
With the fast pace and the overwork environment, a leadership development program must be adapted to offer flexibility and efficiency in the time invested in it. We don’t need anymore to spend whole days in the classroom to get results. Different types of micro-learning allow you to keep participants’ attention, to gradually learn a few bites at the time, to be extra accessible and flexible regarding the time chosen to work on it, and to learn in a personalized way, according to the type of learning that best suits everyone. Participants come to group and individual coaching sessions with concepts and learnings in mind which allow highly productive and shorter work sessions focusing on knowledge integration and practice.
- Measuring Progress and Ensuring Sustainability
Measuring the starting point, through an evaluation or diagnosis, helps to align, adapt, and personalize a leadership development program according to the managers and organization own realities. Measuring progress when a program is done allow to evaluate the progress in a tangible and quantified way and to identify future development opportunities. When we notice that leadership behaviours evolve, we can acknowledge the impact of the program. Measuring helps as well to plan the next steps while ensuring a sustainable approach. Leadership development is not a two-day all-inclusive getaway! It is more of a backpack trip for several months, years, or, for some, a lifetime! You should implement mechanisms that will nourish thoughts on leadership so that your managers continue to co-develop and share. And why not develop the leadership of everyone? Should leadership be exclusive to managers? I am convinced that it shouldn’t!