The problem statement appears to be: How do we find time to develop our leaders and still get all our work done?
That problem statement, however, is created under a false premise: That developing leaders and doing important work for the business are separate actions. Today’s successful leaders know that the best leadership development occurs while employees are doing important work together.
You have all the time you need.
Last week in this space we established that the most effective leadership development occurs in the context of the business objectives an employee must deliver. Equally important, however, is this truth communicated brilliantly by the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear: Facts don’t change behaviors, family and friends do.
In other words, too many organizations fail at developing leaders because their efforts are rational. Greater psychological safety, for example, doesn’t occur because an employee learns why it’s important. Psychological safety improves when employees experience sustained, elevated norms while interacting with one another.
As a top leader of innovation within a Fortune 50 company we support recently shared, “You can’t logically build leaders and teams, because influencing others is an emotional action. Building bonds with others is not done through logic.”
Clear agrees: When humans decide how to behave, they often make decisions that are “factually false, but socially accurate.” In other words, humans will do what they know is wrong so that they’re seen as right by the community within which they operate.
“Facts don’t change behaviors. Family and friends do.”
The Framework In Which Leaders Are Developed Matters
The solution to the problem of effectively developing leaders, therefore, requires A) context (stay focused on the business imperative, and B) community (develop leaders and the community within which they operate).
- Align participants to a single business Imperative This step ensures that all development efforts are in the context of what matters most to the business and participants.
- Identify the (B)arriers standing between leaders and the successful achievement of their imperative. When participants can objectively and safely discuss why they’re not succeeding, their energy is free to move forward.
- Elevate the Culture norms required to break barriers to success. This step enables the team to collectively establish the human imperative (the required thinking and actions) to successfully deliver their business imperative.
- Equip leaders to model new norms. Elevated culture norms only become a reality when participants are provided with the methods and common language to change how the community operates together.
It’s never been a more exciting time to be in the business of developing leaders. Succeeding requires equipping employees to do what they have always wanted to do: Accelerate their ability to deliver their priorities with the colleagues they rely upon to get the job done.