Be sure your organization’s leaders don’t demonstrate ‘how not to fail’.
“Excellence is not the opposite of failure.” I heard Marcus Buckingham say this during his keynote at the May 2018 Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition. This interesting thought coming from the head of ADP Research Institute and a New York Times bestselling author bears some reflection. Think about those you’ve learned from throughout your career. Have you learned behaviors you want to emulate or avoid?
We know we can’t learn excellence by studying failure, but many times this is what we do. Whether it’s developing our careers or leadership or interacting with friends and family, we observe behaviors that cause us to say, “I don’t want to do that/be like that.” Less often do we look at another’s behavior and make a mental note of how we want to act.
As we move through our careers, we encounter what we consider to be “failed” leaders or leadership behaviors. We mentally make notes of the ways we don’t want to lead. However, if we study failed leaders, we only identify ways to not fail, as opposed to ways to succeed.
The leaders we have in place today play a key role in our organization’s future, as they are tasked with identifying and developing high performers and high potentials. We become effective leaders by learning from and engaging with other effective leaders. Therefore, as we look at the leaders within the organization, we must consider whether our current leaders are the people we want mentoring and coaching our future leaders. Ask yourself:
- What are the strengths of our leaders? Do we leverage these strengths to develop our future leaders?
- Do leaders recognize gaps and seek to fill them?
- What behaviors are hindering the development of our future leaders?
- Do we hold leaders accountable for demonstrating behaviors aligned to our organizational mission and values?
To support the development of future leaders, we need current leaders demonstrating behaviors that should be emulated, not avoided. To help make this happen, communicate the behaviors you want leaders in your organization to exhibit. Establish leadership competencies aligned to organizational success to increase self-awareness. Then encourage leaders to demonstrate, observe and provide feedback on the behaviors to help future leaders develop. Current leaders can provide coaching and even be coached to build their skills within these competencies.
When this process is in place, you’ll be able to develop future leaders by giving them the opportunity to experience behaviors that will help them learn to succeed instead of teaching them how not to fail.
Jennifer Stangl is CUES’ director of professional development.
Deedee Myers, Ph.D., is a key source in the CU Management magazine article, “Transforming Manager to Leader.” Myers is CEO of DDJ Myers Ltd., Phoenix, a CUESolutions Silver provider for succession planning, executive recruitment and leadership coaching.
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