Effective Leadership Development

Our fast changing world requires leaders to be aware of the changes they need to make in their style to meet the requirements of the frequently changing markets, economic conditions and technological advancements. The other requirement that is equally important is how to change our leadership style to take our followers through the impending changes. Leaders need “ever-changing” development to be successful throughout their careers. Marshall Goldsmith wrote a best selling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, to illustrate the concept of changing your leadership approach to match the current conditions.

In a 2010 paper by INSEAD associates, Manfred Kets de Vries and Konstantin Korotov explained the need to keep learning how to be an effective leader as you encounter changing business conditions.

“Due to the different and changing parameters of leadership (i.e. national and corporate culture, industry, level of education, organizational life cycle), leaders have to possess a wide range of competences and approaches to be able to execute their role successfully (Kets de Vries, 2007). Contrary to the “Great Man” cookie-cutter recipe of leadership, present-day leaders recognize that in order to be effective, they need to be able to adapt their style to suit the different situations they will face.”

In the context of effective leadership development, how do we bring out the best attributes of leaders to impact the current situation and changing climate? As I mentioned in the previous blog, traditional leadership development methods do not take care of the ongoing needs of most leaders. They also do not yield a good return on the investment. My experience as a corporate executive and executive coach have clearly demonstrated to me that coaching provides the best methods of bringing out the best attributes and strengths of individuals and teams. Leaders need to change their style and approaches to the changing conditions they foresee or encounter. The right business coach will bring an objective view to business conditions and guide the leader to leverage their strengths and other characteristics in the context of business needs and changing conditions.

“Transformational leaders are leaders who continuously reinvent themselves; individuals who stay flexible and adaptable, and improve those around them. A transactional leader takes people where they want to go, while a transformational leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but where they ought to be. They take organizations to a higher level.” (Kets de Vries & Korotov) “The transactional leaders work within the organizational culture as it exists; the transformational leader changes the organizational culture” (Schein, 1992). The organizational culture can be within a project team, department, business unit or the entire company culture.

This is why I believe that the best method is coaching for first, transforming the leader, and then guiding them to transform the organization. The coach will follow a process similar to the process below:

  1. Assess the needs of the organization and their business i.e. business conditions, culture etc.
  2. Assess leader(s) to understand themselves, their style, their behaviors and the need to change behaviors and leverage other strengths.
  3. Create development plans in the context of what needs to be done to move the business forward. This does not mean to fit the leader into the company-approved competencies, but it should fit the values of the organization.
  4. Help acknowledge what the leader can’t do and what they can do with the capacity and talents they possess.
  5. Have the leaders take risks, practice, and experience their new style they are trying to develop. They must take actions that show results to appreciate changes they make as a leader.
  6. Measure the changes in the leader by paying attention to positive changes in the organization, collecting feedback, collecting antidotal examples and metrics used by the organization.
  7. Make adjustments to the development as the experiences may suggest.
  8. Move slowly away as the client grows for reinforcing and sustaining new behaviors and approaches.
  9. Have their boss and other trusted people in the company continue to coach and provide encouraging feedback.
  10. Periodically re-engage to support the business conditions and the related needs that leaders should be aware of and make necessary changes in their leadership style.

“Leadership is defined not by what a single leader does but has the ability to collaborate, motivate and to manage networks. Where there is constant change, where organizations need to operate globally, where technology is transforming the ways in which people interact, the focus of our understanding of leaders has shifted towards a process of influence between a leader and followers to attain group, organizational, or societal goals.” (Kets de Vries & Korotov) If the leader does not change along with the business conditions they will eventually become static and fail or become redundant.

“Additionally, many leadership scholars have suggested that the most effective kind of leadership has a values-driven base (Greenleaf and Spears, 1998; Kets de Vries, 2009). The assumption is that authenticity marks the difference between effective and dysfunctional leadership. Here, authenticity refers to qualities such as openness, honesty, transparency and being real. It refers to the kinds of leaders who feel ‘good in their skin’.”  (Kets de Vries, & Korotov)

Companies should hire “real people” to lead. Ray Williams in his book Wired for Success quotes Sydney Finkelstein, author of Why Smart Executives Fail and David Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo in their book, Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors that Can Derail Your Climb to the Top and How to Manage Them. It appears the major reasons for failure has nothing to do with competence, or knowledge, or experience… The authors present cogent reasons why executives fail, most of which have to do with hubris, ego and a lack of emotional intelligence.” Confidential coaching can modify these attributes if the client is willing to be coached. The board of advisors or a CEO has the obligation to address these characteristics. This is the first step in helping a leader: self-awareness. Leaders in the 21st century must recognize that building and developing their organization’s leadership is a strategic priority.





About Bud Roth

Bud is a seasoned executive with over 25 years experience working with Fortune 500 companies. Roth Consulting Group LLC focuses on team and executive coaching, organizational renewal, expatriate support, and improving leadership performance. Bud's recently published book, Be More Productive – Slow Down, suggests methods of reflection and actions that guide us to regain control of our busy life and reduce stress by slowing down.

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