Close the Leadership Gap

election series close the leadership gapOver the past month, we’ve been rolling out a number of blogs inspired by leadership insights tied to the 2016 Presidential Election. In this last blog of this series, we’re going to talk about something that’s perhaps unfortunate but true. In looking at the past and current candidates, it’s no secret: There have been a number of serious questions about leadership capability and credibility across all party lines. The question is, should we be surprised? According to a recent Global Workforce Leadership Survey, there’s actually a looming leadership gap in organizations worldwide, not just here in the United States. That’s not to say that there aren’t great Disciplined Leaders in our midst, but the void is real. Companies are struggling with consequences of it and looking for answers and sustainable solutions. As you know, leadership development is MAP’s powerhouse—that’s what we do. And if there’s any one thing that an organization can do to fill that gap, it’s to acknowledge it exists in the first place. Then those who care to do something about it need to have a system in place that doesn’t just support organization health and wellness but also invests in the capacity to spot and develop future leaders according to their full potential.

Want to close the leadership gap in your organization? Consider these tips.

Turn on your leadership-detecting radar. In your organization, you can’t spot future leaders or nurture current ones if you’re not actively paying attention to who has potential to become better. You know what makes a great leader…people who are disciplined in a number of key mindsets and behaviors—those who are focused, confident, courageous, humble at the right times, passionate, solid communicators…the list goes on! So put your radar out. Start noticing when your team players are demonstrating these characteristics and a clear willingness to improve and grow professionally. If you see consistency in these mindset and behaviors, that’s a great sign that potential leaders are in your midst.

Ask people if they’re interested. Some people are so caught up in just doing their jobs and getting it all right that they may not even realize they want to become leaders until you call this idea to their attention. In fact, bring up how their consistent successes reflect certain leadership skills and talents, and it may take them by total surprise. Expect this and then be prepared to simply ask your people if they’re up for and really interested in the challenge. Be real about what’s involved in developing professionally and with the goal to become a Disciplined Leader. After all, it will likely require some change—and that’s not always easy or attractive to some people. Be honest so you can get a good read on whether your people have not just the ability but also the desire to become future leaders. It’s vital to know this information before you invest time, money, training, and other resources to support their leadership growth.

Demonstrate your commitment. Your people are going to feel more safe and comfortable about developing their leadership skills if they know that what you offer in terms of professional leadership growth is of value. In short, they want to trust you before they agree to whatever it is you’re encouraging them to pursue. For example, say you call out someone for their leadership potential and send them to MAP’s 2.5-day executive leadership program. Then after that person returns, you don’t take action based upon what they discovered about themselves and/or how to become a more Disciplined Leader. In such a situation, you’re essentially sending the message you don’t really value them as a potential leader after all. You’re simply going through the motions. This can be incredibly self-defeating not just for that individual who went but also for your own leadership credibility. And when your leadership credibility suffers, so, too, do employee morale, performance, productivity and results. So make the commitment to support leadership potential from start to finish whether that’s through the right training, tools, techniques, etc. Be consistent and accountable to your goal to better cultivate these leaders and keep them working for you.

What have you done differently to better build up leaders in your organization?

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