, Developing Real Leadership: The 5 BIG Mistakes ( # 1)

Developing Real Leadership: The 5 BIG Mistakes ( # 1)

February 2nd, 2012 Posted by Leadership Coaching, Leadership Tools, Performance Coaching

The following series of blogs details the 5 BIG Mistakes that organisations make when developing their leadership talent that is costing them in productivity, staff engagement, staff satisfaction and staff retention; never mind the escalating costs of replacing individuals and getting them up to speed to do an effective job.

As you read through these 5 BIG Mistakes – and the problems they create – you’ll immediately be in a position to introduce new strategies to develop your leadership talent, increase engagement and reduce those costs associated with employees being disengaged and leaving your company for “greener pastures”.  In fact…continuing to do what the industry has always done will continue to get you the same results. Many of the standard old and tired approaches to leadership development simply don’t work and fail to deliver on organisational (and employee!) expectations. It’s time to take a new approach.

Every organisation wants them and every organisation says they’re committed to building them but how many organisations actually produce great leaders at every level throughout their business?

There are many benefits of having leaders, including self-leaders, at every level of the organisation and some of these include:

  • Proactivity: The ability to set and achieve our own objectives.
  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for our mistakes and making them right.
  • Motivation: That drive that gets us to the office early and keeps us focused throughout the day.
  • Confidence: Being able to present new ideas and having the self-assurance in ourselves and our capabilities.
  • Harmonisation: Being a team player, making decisions and acting in-line with organisational values.
  • Enthusiasm: Having the energy and “juice!” to overcome any challenges we come across.
  • Inspiration: The ability to move people toward a cause that is greater than themselves.
  • Self-awareness: Understanding ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses and taking on the challenge of becoming better.


BIG MISTAKE # 1: Employees will pick up leadership skills on the Job…

If you want to be a great leader the best way to become one is to get close to an individual who already demonstrates great leadership practices. Stick with them as much as you can, learn everything you can from them, observe them, especially in the tough times; get to know how they think and how they make decisions. Most importantly, identify those unique character traits that set them apart and work on developing those within yourself.

That’s the ideal way…regrettably most organisations lack great leadership in the first place and there is a shortage of good leadership role-models. Unfortunately, when people are asked about ‘leadership’ they tend to think ‘management’.

Start developing real leadership skills in your organisation now and reverse this trend!

Another unfortunate aspect of organisation culture is that there is no incentive to developing leaders; therefore we are more concerned about getting the job done rather than spending the time needed with our people to help them grow. We are too busy in our day to day jobs to realise that by developing our teams they will experience the confidence to step up and take on many of the day to day tasks that prevent you, a leader of people, from focusing on where you can add value most. Most leaders don’t have the skill-set to do this because they have never experienced it themselves and lack the knowledge of how to apply it to others.

Bill O’Brien, former president of Hanover Insurance in the United States argues that managers must redefine their job. They must give  up “the old dogma of planning, organizing and controlling,” and realise “the almost sacredness of their responsibility for the lives of so many people.” Managers’ fundamental task, according to O’Brien, is “providing the enabling conditions for people to lead the most enriching lives they can” (Senge, 1992).

Developing a great leadership culture doesn’t happen by chance. It takes time, effort and focus. It takes an understanding of the core leadership competencies and embedding these into the organisational culture where they are measured and reviewed.

Each member of staff should be on a leadership programme with goals and objectives within this space. Cave and Tappin (2008) suggest that to become a complete leader of tomorrow requires apprenticeship. Learning leadership is like a quest – there’s no defined path to success. It’s a personal journey and is different for everyone.

Identify where your leaders are spending their time.  Is their focus on developing their people or managing the things their people do?

Believing that employees will learn on the job without a dedicated leadership culture in place will lead to disappointment and frustration for all involved.

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” ~ John Buchan

Knowing what you know now!  How are you going to start developing your people rather than manage them?  What activities can you let go of and give to an aspiring team member to free up your time and contribute to their growth?

Knowing what you know now!  What are the leadership objectives for your team members or yourself?  Remember, leadership is about leading yourself first!  What changes can you make in your life to become a real leader?



If you’d like to know more about how to achieve more in life or business, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.

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