Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders are hired to be influencers and change agents who will improve performance. Their success hinges on motivating people to follow their lead, collaborating with them, rather than directing them, to change what is necessary to achieve their shared goals.   Because leaders are expected to drive change, and not just adapt to it, mastering leadership is increasingly about the continuous process of learning how to inspire and engage with their teams to produce productive change. Building on their natural talents, strengths and experience, leaders are compelled to expand knowledge and skills; knowledge comes from study and skills come from practice. Without practice, leaders cannot hone their new learnings and skills to inspire others in the pursuit of essential changes. Leaders can ensure the ROI and long-lasting effectiveness of their development in these two ways:

  1. Using disciplined reflection. There is an important connection between reflection and action. Disciplined reflection involves leaders carving out quiet time following a learning experience to ask themselves: What did I learn, and how can I practice it today? Effective development exercises include reflection and discussion time, prompting learners to share their reactions about the exercise with other attending leaders. Participants are encouraged to engage in a structured dialogue and propose ideas on how to apply what’s been learned to specific business challenges. Leaders can then act on these ideas, practicing them every day to embed new behavior.
     
  2. Deliberately pursuing practice. Just as disciplined reflection helps to validate what’s been learned, consistently practicing newly learned skills enables leaders to refine and adapt them to their own work. Leaders establish a practice goal and envisioned outcome to drive the utilization of what’s been learned; then they monitor, often using technology, how their daily practice is enabling progress towards that outcome. The practicing must begin as soon as possible after the learning since the longer it takes to initiate the practice, the higher the probability that what was learned will be forgotten.

Securing new leadership knowledge and skills is just the beginning of leadership development. By initiating these two methods after a learning experience, leaders can develop new habits that break the pressures of task pursuit, and instead, facilitate deep change that strengthens team engagement, improves long term results and generates an acceptable ROI on the development investment.

How consistently do you seek to strengthen 
your leadership competency?

How can you ensure that your investment 
in these efforts generates results?