Leaders Found Less Than Proficient at Leading Others—

Would it be fair to say that an important part of leadership has got to be the ability to lead others?

Yet, in a survey published by Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), only 45% of leaders are rated proficient at this by their boss.

Wait a minute, are you saying that more than half of the European leaders out there aren't considered by their boss to be good at leading other people?

Yes. Exactly.

If that's not shocking, then it's at least seriously thought-provoking.

But the sad fact is that it correlates well with the Gallup surveys that say that more than 60% of our workforce are not particularly engaged in their job while 23% are actively disengaged. To a large extent, engagement is a function of leadership.

These are depressing stats. To me, it just confirms that there's a serious challenge out there to improve our leadership capacity.

CCL recommends three ways to improve that situation:

  • Challenging assignments that offer opportunities to practice new skills in the workplace;
  • Relationships with other people who can provide feedback and support, including bosses and trusted colleagues; and
  • Coursework and training focused on leadership competencies needed by your organization.

Actually, this is exactly the way we do it and have been doing it on our GROW Coaching program for some years now. We combine all three elements in one program.

You—and maybe your boss—define a challenging assignment that you would like to work on over the next 12 weeks. We prefer a wicked problem to puzzles.

We use the Action Learning format for our work, which means you will be working in different constellations with your colleagues, sometimes the full set—a class, on other occasions, in table teams of five and most of the time, more intensely, in small triads that are supported by your coach.

The curriculum or course work is mainly introduced on a 3-day workshop that starts the 12-week course.  We kick-off the leadership course with this workshop that introduces participants to a number of practical approaches on how to lead others—that they can pick and choose from—depending on the challenge they are working on.

The driving design principle is to take participants through as many interactions of the learning circle as possible.

Join the GROW Coaching Program

Maybe you're wondering how could you accelerate your own development as a team leader?

Here's what it takes:

  • A challenge—something that will get you out of your traditional comfort zone and activate some of that gray matter of yours;
  • New inputs and perspectives on the subject of leadership and personal development;
  • Coaching—where you get to ponder fundamental questions about your own leadership, beliefs and values; and
  • Systematic and structured reflection on all of the above.

That’s it!

The research out there is definitely clear; this is what you need—and please note that there's no mention of a classroom.

In my online training, the Team Leader's Toolbox, I'll go into much more detail on how to actually do this in practical terms. Because it is not rocket science, it just requires you to be aware of some basic principles about human behavior and the importance of relationships.


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Mike Hohnen, MBA is a coach, trainer, author and public speaker who supports leaders, managers and their teams in implementing the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

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