From Leader to Effective Leader

Effective-LeaderTo be an effective leader, one must engage in personal and professional development, improving conscious competence, self-awareness, other-relatedness, and growing in ways that are transformative, not just transactional. By that I mean that it’s just as important to evolve one’s character and consciousness, not just improve leadership competencies.

We expect our leaders to be wise and that means we expect them to evolve continually. The bar gets raised every year and without leaders’ commitment to enhancing personal and professional development, they can easily lose competitive advantage, unable to drive their people and their companies to excellence.

When leaders don’t invest in their personal development through coaching, training and ongoing learning, they can’t meet the increasing demands of today’s business environment, and they fail to deliver on the first three of four universal promises described by authors Robert J. Andersen and William A. Adams book Mastering Leadership:

  1. Set the direction for meaningful work
  2. Engage commitment and accountability for performance
  3. Establish processes and systems so everyone focuses on execution

Without personal and professional development leaders stagnate. As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here, won’t get you there!”

“Leadership development must proceed at a pace consistent with what it takes to stay effective and relevant in today’s complex, rapidly changing business environment.” ~ Robert J. Andersen and William A. Adams, Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results, Wiley 2015.

The Executive Coaching Imperative

For a leader to grow a company, he or she must commit to grow as an individual. Executive coaching has proven to be one of the most effective leadership development tactics. A large body of evidence shows positive return on investment on coaching leaders. Even conservative measures estimate an average return of 5.7 times the cost of coaching.

Research shows that a CEO’s developmental stage significantly determines the success of large-scale corporate transformation programs (Torbert, Graves). Leaders won’t sustain 21st century effectiveness unless they continually upgrade their competencies, coping strategies, and capacity to influence others.

Yet few leaders regularly set priorities for professional growth. Even those engaged in executive coaching relationships struggle to keep their appointments to do the work for self awareness. Too many of us —like those executives —are so mired in the day-to-day we fail to think long-term, and fail to take actions today unless we see immediate payoffs.

I see this in the companies where I work coaching people. It’s a problem, because so many executives are so stressed it’s hard to make time for self-development. But, if you’re not growing – if you’re not making progress on identified gaps in your self-awareness, strengths, and abilities to cope, you are not simply standing still; you’re regressing.

Living in Leader Blind Spots

Most likely, at some point, a leader will falter—under stress, with a fine-line ethical dilemma, or with a delicate choice between right and more right. As a leader, you will likely make a wrong decision at some point. You probably won’t see it coming until it’s too late. When you do, you’ll know you’re in a blind spot, and you’ll recognize it because it’s been with you a long time.

When you fail to make use of coaching, or training, or other tools of personal growth, you’re creating conditions for failure and you won’t lead effectively. You’re breaking all the promises of leadership that so many others expect you to keep.

Effective leaders know they can’t afford to stand still. Eventually the pace of business will exceed their current capacity to handle new challenges. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing, complex marketplace, no leader can expect that “what got them here will get them there.”

As a leader what are you doing to keep the four promises to lead effectively? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

 

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