Growing Better Leaders: 5 Developmental Stages

Growing Better Leaders: 5 Developmental Stages

The increasingly complex and chaotic marketplace poses an urgent need to grow better leaders. Companies that seek to maintain competitive advantages require strong leadership. Leaders remain confused, however, about how to strengthen their competencies. Formal training and higher education haven’t sufficiently prepared them for all of the 21st century’s disruptive innovations and global challenges. While some leaders thrive, others barely survive. Many of today’s executives feel as though they’re in over their heads. In their quest to unlock leadership potential, organizations invest millions in assessments, training programs and executive coaching. These investments seem to pay off, at least for a while. But for long-term growth, organizations must understand leadership’s developmental stages. How Leaders “Grow Up” Like all maturing adults, leaders progress through sequential developmental levels. At each stage, adults gain greater awareness and cognitive capacities. Similarly, leadership effectiveness improves as one develops, matures and expands consciousness. At the higher stages of development, leaders become more successful and their businesses enjoy greater results. With increased leadership effectiveness, there’s a 38% probability of seeing higher business performance, according to one study. A 38% leverage is well beyond most companies’ profit margins, so developing capable leaders should be a priority. Developmental-stage theory is relatively new and even more cutting-edge when applied to leadership programs. Rather than focusing on training, skills and knowledge, it involves expanding one’s mindset and “forms of mind” (defined by New Zealand leadership coach Jennifer Garvey Berger as our changing capacity to cope with complexity, multiple perspectives and abstraction). Yet, few leadership-development initiatives address the inner game: how leaders perceive, find meaning, make decisions and handle complexities. Robert J....
Disentangle Difficult Conversations

Disentangle Difficult Conversations

Why do we avoid difficult conversations? At some point, many of us have had to deliver the dreaded line, “We need to talk.”  And this often precedes an argument rather than any conversation. Why are some conversations so difficult that we’ll do anything to avoid them? Possibly because: We are stuck between what we feel and knowing what we really shouldn’t say. We are distracted by our internal thoughts and uncertain about what to share. There’s so much going on in the relationship with the other person, it’s confusing. If you didn’t care on some level about your relationship with the other person, you wouldn’t struggle with this in the first place. But avoiding the conversation allows things to build up to the boiling point. When we finally have no choice but to confront the issue, we end up damaging the relationship with the other person. Holly Weeks, author of an article in Harvard Business Review, "Failure to Communicate," describes a familiar “difficult conversation” scenario: “Your stomach’s churning; you’re hyperventilating – you’re in a badly deteriorating conversation at work. Such exchanges, which run the gamut from firing subordinates to parrying verbal attacks from colleagues, are so loaded with anger, confusion, and fear that most people handle them poorly: they avoid them, clamp down, or give in. But dodging issues, appeasing difficult people, and mishandling tough encounters all carry a high price for managers and companies – in the form of damaged relationships, ruined careers, and intensified problems.” Whenever emotions are involved, conversations get tricky. Emotions are generated in the part of the brain called the amygdala – a more...
Bring Out the Best in People: 5 Steps to Peak Performance

Bring Out the Best in People: 5 Steps to Peak Performance

How do you bring out the best in people? Managers want their people to achieve excellence at work. Leaders and management alike know that they can’t achieve expected business results without the participation and engagement of individuals and teams. Without people motivated for peak performance, companies will go out of business. Peak performance is defined as a combination of excellence, consistency and ongoing improvement. To achieve peak performance, one must find the right job, tasks and conditions that match his or her strengths. Therefore, facilitating the right fit becomes one of a manager’s most crucial responsibilities. While every employee has the potential to deliver peak performance, it’s up to the manager to bring out the best in people. Disengaged Or Bored? Disengaged employees often appear to lack commitment. In reality, many of them crave engagement. No one enjoys working without passion or joy. While many factors cause disengagement, the most prevalent is feeling overwhelmed — or, conversely, underwhelmed. Disconnection and overload pose obstacles to performance, yet they often go undetected or ignored because neither qualifies as a disciplinary issue. Meanwhile, managers try to work around such problems, hoping for a miraculous turnaround or a spark that reignites energy and drive. They try incentives, empowerment programs or the management “fad du jour.” While it’s impossible to create “flow” moments all day long, any manager can greatly improve on the ability to help people achieve peak performance. Traditionally managers try various motivational methods, such as incentives and rewards, but with only temporary success. Managing Knowledge Workers You can’t force peak performance with knowledge workers—those employees who need to think to do...