“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Does Leadership Development

Leadership development that worksDADT

This is always an interesting and pertinent topic to me, as the beginning stages – creation, if you will – of leadership development efforts are where success/failure is determined. Implementation is simple, as is (generally) curriculum development.

“How” and “Why,” then, are easy; the tough part is “What?” I’ve got leaders, I’ve got the resources to apply, what skills, then, do we “develop?” My take:

  1. It’s not the economy, stupid. Yes, current events and environments matter, to some degree. But don’t let a full development plan be overly influenced by current, uncontrollable events, or fads created by some renegade consultant or academic hawking a new book.

The only things that matter are those that directly and specifically impact your organization.

  1. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Don’t ask potential participants “what do you think you need?” They don’t know, from an organizational perspective. Speak to and interview those leaders’ boss if you want to know what behaviors work. Those folks feel the pain of under-developed leaders.

Discover what behaviors they wish their subordinates had, and why it would make a difference.

A major hospital system client had “challenges” within their senior team. Recent acquisitions and expansions left them with the “old” guard and the “new,” and determining – and supporting – what was really important to that group took multiple conversations with stakeholders above and beyond those directly affected. We can be too close to the forest…

  1. Line ’em up! This is crucial: make sure that any leadership development efforts align closely with business goals and objectives. If we missed some last year, what behaviors caused us to do so? If we have big, honkin’ goals for the future, what skills and behavior will our leaders need to reach them?

These are the things that matter.

And don’t forget – any effort like this requires some metrics in place to determine success. Before and after snapshots can help show “change,” as well as available business measurements.

Leadership development is crucial, though not necessarily difficult. Stay focused on what matters, avoid hype and fluff, and showcase the results. Everyone wins…

Be Brazen.

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