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Don't Keep The Power of Leadership A Secret

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Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Sharing leadership with others benefits Everyone

HR and L&D professionals don’t always have the convincing power we wish we could have with the CEO, especially when it comes to investing in learning and development programs. But why is that?

The power of leadership is proven, especially with research-backed assessments like the LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory® 360 assessment. Is it because we are keeping leadership a secret? Are our CEOs and C-suite professionals unaware of the power of leadership?

The internal success of leadership programs for both individual participants and the company is often not communicated within the company or the results are not shared externally with other business leaders. If leadership is kept a secret, it stifles the growth of the individual and achievement of business goals.

I witnessed the effect of this at a West Coast company in the software industry that has 1,200 employees and a leadership team together for 5 years.

The success and ROI from specific leadership development programs were not shared up to the C-suite leaders or horizontally within the population of the company because of a culture where good news or achievements were not shared internally. The formal onboarding process of new hires included exposure to leadership programs and specific leadership training created internally for these new employees. The company was promoting new leaders and management from these formal programs, but many leaders didn’t know about them or understand their influence.

One business unit leader started the practice of good news check-ins with his teams: each team member got three minutes to share about a personal accomplishment or a fellow team member’s accomplishment. This leader’s eyes were opened when grateful teammates shared their success and growth from the leadership programs and how it contributed to their skill set, mindset, and goal achievement at work.

This practice spread within the company and in 6 months it was common practice. As a result, the executive team became aware of the impact of the leadership development programs from the gratitude of the employees.

Then, the executive team intern shared the success of the employees and the company with other members of the business community to further spread awareness about the impact of leadership. Keeping leadership to ourselves doesn’t do anyone at the organization any good. Inviting others to understand the power of leadership, whether departmental managers or other higher-ups, only helps us better make our case.

Having another person in your corner is always a good thing. If we bring others along and share the leadership business case, those people will understand the value and ROI we work hard to show. More and more people who understand why leadership is beneficial for their department and their coworkers will reinforce the importance to our CEOs and other decision-makers.

Here’s how to keep leadership from being a secret in your organization:

  1. Tell stories: Share leadership opportunities, obstacles, small wins, victories, and failures. Focus on objective results and measures taken or not taken instead of subjective likes or dislikes. It’s just as important to share why something didn’t work as it is to share what did.
  2. Engage the CEO: Enlist senior leaders to share their philosophy of leadership, whether through regular quotes, endorsing leadership development initiatives, or sharing results. 
  3. Mine for innovation and outsight: A global study of CEOs found that more most often, innovative ideas came from outside the organization – from customers, business partners, or other business units. Ask others what has worked for them, or what is “missing” in their development process.
  4. Ask others to share: Listen to the stories of those around you and pull their experiences into your rationale. Different leaders will have different experiences, allowing you to speak to a larger variety of benefits.
  5. Do your research: When you find a justification on the ROI for a program that has been implemented or that could be implemented in your organization, share it with your decision-maker and leadership allies. Ask for their input as you build a more compelling case for the program’s ties to business success.

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Jeff Pressly

Jeff Pressly is a FlashPoint business development consultant. He seeks to understand clients’ needs in order to help organizations build a strong learning culture.

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