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The importance and effect of leadership development in a world-class organisation

By Leann Meyer - HR Team Leader: LabourNet - Apr 17, 2018
The importance and effect of leadership development in a world-class organisation

Companies around the globe are all working towards being recognised as the benchmark organisation in their industry sector as well as receive recognition across other industries sectors as world-class.

According to Utpal Vaishnav, world-class organisations share several common characteristics: They require continuous development, happy employees, customers and vendors, as well as consistent innovation, leadership, a sense of ownership, operation excellence, and transparency.

The above-mentioned characteristics would need to be developed, implemented and managed by people and teams within the organisation. More specifically, by the right people, with the right skills, abilities and attributes that are constantly developing themselves to be the best leader/employee they can be.

Leadership vs Management

Managing and leading are two different ways of developing people. Leadership is establishing a compelling vision or direction for a team to strive to achieve — i.e., a leader is the spearhead for that new direction. However, management is generally about controlling or directing people and resources to achieve a goal by the utilization of procedures, principles or values that have already been established.

The “manager” uses a structured, rational methodology opposed to the leader who at times operates on passion and stirs emotions.

Leadership and management are not necessarily two sides of a coin. In fact, leadership may a strong component of management. Often the same people play both roles at different times within the organisation – being both leader and manager. Most successful managers are also good leaders. On the other hand, leaders do well if they also have managerial skills because it assists them in foreseeing the implementation aspects of their strategic vision.

The common mistake that organisations make, is to employ an individual with management traits and experience, thinking that they will make a difference within the organisation and be able to lead a successful team.

Organisations need to assess for and identify the correct personal traits when looking at recruiting and succession planning but also ensure that individuals are provided with ongoing leadership development which would enable leaders to strive to achieve a common purpose and goal consistently throughout the organisation.

The Importance of Development

World-class leaders have characteristics and attributes which set them apart from others. Even individuals who would be considered to already be excellent managers would still need to develop themselves to be exceptional leaders. In some cases, there are “natural-born leaders”, however, world-class leaders would have to acquire additional skills and knowledge. Any person with a basic ability to learn and a willingness to study can develop these competencies. It's not “rocket science”; it is practice and determination to succeed.

More importantly, although there is a great difference in capability between an excellent manager and a world-class leader, the reality is that their characteristics are amplifications of those required for all levels of effective leadership. Therefore, the aim is to build on the existing base of knowledge and skills by continuous learning and by taking the time for reflection and study.                     

According to the theory of John Maxwell in “The Five Levels of Leadership”, a level-four leader will focus on reproducing himself and developing future leaders.

Leadership development is of utmost importance in attaining a high-performance organisation. By developing identified employees as individual leaders, companies will create a collective force that will lead to optimal efficiency and effectiveness.

Effective leadership within organisations is the key to success in the long run.

World-wide effective leaders have an impact on people around them. Companies who prosper are led by effective leaders. Although the central leader does form a critical part in the success of the team, it is the circle of leaders around this leader that will have the greatest impact. Thus the importance of cultivating a workforce of leaders.

The good news is that leaders can be developed through effective leadership training. The training should cover the emotional, practical, and theoretical aspects of great leadership.

Some of the benefits of leadership development can include:

  1. Increased productivity.

The right individual with the correct leadership style can increase the productivity of a team or work force. The fundamental key to successful leadership is about understanding your people emotionally. Therefore emotional intelligence is critical to the success of a leader. Emotional intelligence involves being smart about emotions and using empathy effectively to empower, encourage and engage employees.

  1. Increased staff retention

As determined by a number of articles and studies, the majority of people who resign don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Employees are more likely to leave the workplace due to an ineffective leader and a negative culture as oppose to work stress and a lack of benefits. Therefore, by investing in leadership training, you can retain your people and reduce costly recruitment expenses.

  1. Nurturing of future leaders.

It is import for a company to focus on future leaders by developing strategic succession plans. Without strategy, leadership roles are often given to the candidates “next in line” with a dominant personality and who is perceived as someone who will be able to take charge.

Quality leadership is a combination of having the correct qualities and receiving the correct training. Identify those who have what it takes and provide them with targeted leadership training.

Nurturing future leaders supports succession planning and offers career pathways to employees, which in turn will create employee engagement and increase retention.

  1. Increase Employee involvement

It is undeniable that individuals all like to know how they are progressing in their roles, receiving praise when it is well-earned and constructive feedback as and when necessary. Giving feedback is a skill of successful leaders, feedback given in the incorrect manner can make or break an individual or group. Through leadership training, you can teach effective ways to give feedback to motivate and increase the skill level of the team.

  1. Implementation of an effective leadership style.

Ken Blanchard proposes situational leadership, which focuses on the leadership style which would best suit an individual as well as the situation. The most important aspect when implementing situational leadership is focusing on the quadrant of the task allocated to the individual rather than placing an individual into a specific quadrant.

Leadership training can assist in implementing the most appropriate leadership style at each level within the organization. There are several leadership styles, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Leadership training can also help individual leaders develop their own personal leadership style that their team members will best respond to.

Conclusion

High-performing organisations should focus on leadership development throughout the entire business structure to ensure that all employees grasp their purpose within the organisation and take ownership for the succession of their teams as well as themselves.