Do You Really Want Leaders?
By Zigmund Sepanski, PowerBusiness Associates Inc.,
A leadership training craze is sweeping Central and
However I am not sure that HR and senior management really know what they are getting into and really want their middle management to be trained in leadership skills. It sounds nice. “Hey, I spent money and trained my middle managers to be leaders. We invest in our people.” But do you really want them to do what leaders are trained to do? You might not be ready for it.
Among other qualities, leaders are people who:
Leadership is change. It is finding new, different, innovative and better ways of doing things. As a result leaders are really getting under the skin of people who like order, like things to be neatly organized, like to have things go smoothly and without any questioning.
So, do you still want leaders in your organization or do you want leaders only in the right spots? Think about that.
As a company you may not want people running trying to improve things, looking at changes, rocking the boat, simplifying procedures. Many companies want strict adherence to rules, and the last thing they want is a leader challenging his employees to look at new and creative ways of getting the job done.
Many firms are happy with rigid rules, with control of information and focusing and individual tasks. The word teamwork, leadership and empowerment are lip service thought up by a person who read a book touting those qualities but who really has no idea what implications such things have to the whole structure of the firm.
To allow your managers to be real leaders requires a change in mentality. You must be open minded and willing to do things totally differently than you did before. It requires a willingness to suffer through some chaos in order to facilitate needed change. And the last thing people in HR or in top management want is chaos.
The danger of sending your people to leadership training is that they just might take it to heart and want to be leaders. They might require that top management delegate more. They might ask for information that up to now has been strictly controlled. They might argue about things that up to now have been accepted on blind faith. They might dare challenge existing status quo and want more freedom in doing the job a different way. They might just want change.
Existing structures, systems, mentality and processes do not accept change, a main criteria of leadership.
That is a tall order for most HR. and senior management. The words “new”, “challenge” or “different is like a rapier piercing the comfort zone balloon. It calls for a surgery where you hoped an aspirin would suffice. It requires a major set of exercises where you thought that you could get away with one knee bend. It calls for throwing out the carpet and tearing up the hardwood floor where you thought you could just sweep it under the rug.
A leaders main job is to take your companies mission and lead his or her department people in a successful effort to fulfill that mission. It is the leaders job to come up with creative, innovative and effective ways to reach that end result. Are you willing to give a leader the leeway required to get that job done any manner he chooses (Within parameters set up front)? Are you willing to say: “here is the result I want and you as a leader figure out how to get your people there and I will stay out of your hair?” I doubt it. I doubt that many senior directors here have the confidence in their managers to empower them to be leaders.
What you need to do is to train the top directors to be leaders first. Give them the tools to understand what leadership is and how they should empower their managers through carefully planned motivation, goaling, training and milestone performance measurement strategies. Otherwise you train your people in leadership skills and they become quickly disenchanted because they cannot use those leadership skills at work. Their top management does not allow it because they don't practice it themselves.
So why train your middle management in leadership skills if your top people don't have the skill set or don't set the process in motion to allow real leadership development. All you are asking for is trouble. You are asking those people who went through training to be disenchanted, to say “This is all great, but they will not let me do what I just learned.”
They will go back to the office, try a few things that they learned, be shot down, get de-motivated and leave.
So are you really ready to have your people be leaders or are you just saying it because it is fashionable?
Copyright 1995 - 2009 PowerBusiness Associates Inc. and by Zigmund Sepanski