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Leadership development

Leadership development is at the center of my practice. And at the center of every effective leader is a healthy, ever-growing human being-a person who is intentional, authentic and contributes to the organization in a highly positive, visible way.

Why do leaders call you?

Leaders often need to change their perspectives, capabilities or approach. Yet they may not have appropriate resources within their organizations or social circles to help them grow. So we bring experience and capacity, plus objectivity, to help leaders effect these changes.

How do you work?

In working with leaders, I strive for three goals:

  • Release and activate the capacity and desires of the leader
  • Share my experience, knowledge, and being to accelerate growth
  • Be a partner for thinking and taking action

The methods we use to grow leadership depend upon the situation. Sometimes we begin with a leadership assessment to determine needs. I offer onsite support, training and coaching to help leaders develop and integrate new capabilities. See Executive Coaching for additional detail.

Can you provide some examples of the leadership development work you've done?

  • Take charge in a new leadership assignment
  • Effect succession planning, including leaving a legacy
  • Identify and make specific performance improvements
  • Develop skills to take advantage of a new opportunity
  • Establish more satisfying and sustainable life balance
  • Improve communications with staff, board, external environments
  • Align people and resources toward most critical goals
  • Optimize executive team effectiveness
  • Optimize personal style to align with the organization's culture
  • Lead critical organizational changes (business models, merger, downsizing)

What are the core beliefs that guide your work with leaders?

The beliefs listed here guide my approach to leadership development. As conceptual as they are, they are worth considering in that they define the worldview I bring to my work and the nature of the relationships I develop with my clients.

  • Leadership skills can be developed in each of us.
  • Development of leadership competence begins within, at the core, where values, passion, and beliefs are held.
  • Self-awareness, authenticity, congruence, purpose and intentionality are critical to effectiveness.
  • Leadership is as much about "being" as it is about "doing".
  • Leadership development, like human development, is an ongoing life process. It can't be mastered. One's effectiveness increases with thoughtful practice and interaction with others.
  • Leadership as a life path is a worthy pursuit. It can be rewarding and challenging in its responsibilities.

I assume that coaching is a big part of leadership development. How do you help leaders grow?

We begin from the leader's core, working from the inside out, and focusing on the universal qualities of successful leaders. Essentially the leader must:

  • Understand the history and current status of the business
  • Create a viable vision and strategy to achieve it
  • Enlist and motivate others
  • Facilitate the process for achieving results

To do this, the leader must use himself/herself as a catalyst. This means he/she must have an array of capabilities from emotional intelligence, to public speaking to analytical abilities. We work with the leader to identify and leverage strengths and grow capabilities in critical areas. Nearly every project includes optimizing interpersonal and communications skills. Decision-making and role clarity work is often required. Some leaders are strong on visioning but have opportunities to grow when it comes to implementation. I work with the leader to determine the appropriate focus based on what is needed to achieve the desired results.

How do you decide whether you want to take on a new client for leadership development?

Together with the leader, I assess the following factors:

  1. Clarity of desired results
    We need to be able to articulate the business results we're striving for and how to measure them.
  2. Leader's investment
    The leader must be invested in growth, be willing to change and be open to influence from his or her staff and me.
  3. Adequacy of my skills
    We need to be confident that I have the skills and knowledge required to help guide the development path in this particular situation.
  4. Chemistry
    We also need an initial compatibility that can grow into a strong partnership.

How do you handle a situation in which a leader isn't developing?

For each project we set goals, take actions, measure progress and adjust. If the leader isn't making progress, we need to understand why not. This is a natural part of the process. I believe every person can grow and develop given the appropriate effort, tools and support. In some rare cases, the assignment is not a good match for the leader's skills and interest. If I believe this is true, I talk with the leader and help him or her choose the best course of action.

Are the leader and the organization's interests ever aligned differently? What do you do in this case?

My experience is that the needs of the organization and the interests of the individual can usually be aligned. In most cases, my agreement is with the client to build capabilities. In rare instances, I am hired by the organization but even then, I have an agreement with the leader. Part of the initial contracting is to ensure that we have clarity about what I can and can't do. For example, I don't guarantee that a leader will choose to stay in an assignment. I also can't ensure that an organization will retain a leader. My focus is on achieving significant results in the areas we define.

What are the characteristics of your most successful leadership coaching and consulting engagements?

Several elements increase the potential success of an engagement:

  • Involvement of client, boss and staff in the overall improvement effort
  • Frequent, real-time interaction as events happen
  • Highly-motivated client when critical improvements are needed
  • Partnership with the client in the work setting
  • Adequate investment of time to learn new skills and integrate the capabilities for sustained results

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