At times it seems poor leaders outnumber effective and motivating leaders. Leadership Development is often seen as the solution. Sometimes the answer lies in something much simpler and more effective: manners, conversations that count and the Golden Rule (treat others how you’d like to be treated.)
It seems that three or four times a year, a series of articles or talks appear reporting on the high number of poor leaders. Followed by the annual statistics and research anecdotes that prove good people are leaving organizations because of their manager and not feeling valued, the proposed solution is usually the same in every article: give these managers access to leadership development programs.
I have spent a large part of my professional life developing and delivering accredited and non accredited leadership programs and currently serve as an Adjunct Faculty member at a graduate school. So I certainly am not ‘anti-leadership development’ or ‘anti-formal qualification’. But, as a coach, I have observed a disheartening increase in leadership behavior that is mean spirited, ego driven and sometimes downright toxic- which in many cases is leading to an exodus of the ‘good people’. I suggest that traditional leadership development is not what many of these leaders need. Instead, they need to go back to basics, values and common courtesy. Some topics of focus might be
- How not to be threatened by a direct report who excels at their job to the point that I push them out of the organization
- How to have constructive, courageous and genuine courteous conversations with staff and peers
- How to have the courage to address performance issues with boldness and tact- rather than avoidance or using frustration fueled by my power to sack the person in a manner that keeps me out of unfair dismissal action but does not really follow due process
- How to develop a culture where staff know they can raise issues and give me constructive feedback and not be ‘punished’
- How to create a culture where people’s strengths and achievements are acknowledged–not necessarily by financial rewared- a genuine email, mention at a meeting or face to face positive feedback can go a long way. A culture where we recognise the power of a genuine well timed ‘thank you’ and friendly ‘good morning’.
Most organisations have people who do practice these values. Seek them out and watch and learn—but first, identify what you are doing well and where your strengths are–and move from there.