Creating Leadership Development Programs
When it comes to building practical and real leadership development programs, tools such as the Extended DISC Lead and Manage assessment and the Open 360 Feedback report are a real game-changer. The assessment tools are a well-rounded way of delving into your natural leadership styles and learning how to build on leadership qualities you already possess. The tools also help identify development areas and others' perspectives of you.
Characteristics of Effective Leaders
How a leader communicates, makes decisions, forecasts and thinks ahead, builds trust, and collaborates has an immediate impact on their ability to lead and influence others. In turn, this can impact personal success.
Businesses specialising in leadership have debated for decades whether leaders are born or made. The debate continues today! Can a person teach themselves to lead well over time by understanding the qualities needed to be effective? Lucky for all of you, I won't be debating this today. You can make your assessment on it. I am going to have a brief look at some of those qualities and especially in one area.
There are a variety of agreed traits as to what makes an effective leader. Every list I look at is slightly different, and I'm sure you'll have your thoughts on it, too, but either way, one of the most agreed aspects of a good leader is self-awareness. It's critical in effective and successful leadership today. Yes, there are other qualities leaders need to possess but being self-aware in how you rate in each leadership characteristic is a must! How can you strengthen or develop these areas if you do not know your starting point? Understanding your unique leadership style preferences is essential for the modern-day leader to know how they act and react in situations. Situations like this are where tools such as the 360 assessment and the Lead and Manage Assessment can be beneficial.
Being self-aware does not mean you automatically get everything right as a leader. It can help your team members to want to be lead by you and respect you as a leader. A significant factor in unleashing your leadership potential is personal awareness. An even more critical factor is to use this information well and then have the ability to adapt your leadership style when needed. It's all very well knowing what it is, but what do you do with that information?
We find that understanding how to modify or adapt your qualities in certain situations is vital. Why do we have to adapt? You don't. It's your choice. However, not everyone in the team or around you is the same behavioural style as you or the leader. Think of all the different behavioural types around you on any given day just for yourself. Think about people in your team right now, wherever you work in the office or at home. If you're not in a leadership role, think about your client's organisations and all the diversity of different teams' behavioural types. Even a quick think about things, and you'll realise just how diverse it can be. Outside the workplace, we think about our families and how many different behavioural styles we have represented around us in our family alone.
As a modern leader, there is an expectation to learn to modify our behaviour in certain situations with different people. Behavioural modification has never been more extreme than now. We now understand that other people need different things from us as leaders. We need to meet their expectations - they may communicate or be motivated differently. They may need additional rewards and recognition than we do. Perhaps they listen, and they think differently with different filters on, the list goes on. As a leader, you have to have self-awareness about where you are on the Extended DISC map, and you also need to understand where your team's needs are and what they expect from you. We need you to modify your behaviours a lot as a leader.
Think back to teachers or adults in your life that you can honestly say made a real positive impact on your life. So, outside of your parents, for example. Chances are, there will be far fewer than you might think. Most people only have about five or six adults who made a real impact on them, and chances are they were leaders who had very well defined characteristics. Maybe they were kind. Perhaps they were respectful or direct and decisive about what you connect with. Or perhaps they showed patience and endless encouragement for you. Chances are, again, that they adapted their connection with you to suit your style when they needed to. They were likely leaders who understood you and adapted their style to make the most impact with you. It's fantastic if it happened to be a natural fit because you were fundamentally the same style as them, but that doesn't often occur. It's more likely that they had attempted to modify in some way, whether sometimes consciously or subconsciously, but the more conscious you are about the
adaption, the more you can do it, the better it will be. So, it's this awareness that makes them great leaders, and they can adapt themselves when needed. They can play on their strengths and potentially surround themselves with others who help deal with development areas. If they can't develop them, that's themselves because they know who they are.
Now controversially here as this might be to say, but if you think of Jacinda Arden recently, the New Zealand prime minister, take politics entirely out of it for a moment and look at the person. Regardless of political preference, an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders think that she adapted her style and connected well during daily briefings and overseen the coronavirus lockdown in general. She was very present, fairly straightforward on decisions, presented facts well and even did Facebook lives. Looking at that, that suited a lot of different styles in the way of communication. There is formal communication. There are facts, informal communication, connection, and all sorts of other things that she did. To use the word at the moment, which is on-trend, would be the word pivot. Ee could say she pivoted her personality to cover a lot of aspects. We at Extended DISC say adapt. We've judged Jacinda's leadership style on adapting her communication, and she has scored highly. I'm not going to poke around at all the things good and bad that she did during this time. The general outcome of her modifying her leadership and becoming far more transparent in her communication won many people over. Whether you like her or not, that gained a lot of trust and respect with people.
It never ceased to amaze me how many companies called me to run leadership programs in their leadership team in my consulting days. Still, their manager or their GM or operations manager or even higher didn't consider being involved or maybe didn't want to take part. It required quite a bit of influencing from me until they saw how all this clicked together, and then they were willing to put themselves forward and learn about themselves. It's not natural for many leaders to put themselves forward in front of direct reports or peers to assess. Self-aware leaders can look beyond their interests and see how other people are affected by their actions. This allows leaders to act not just in their best interests but in the best interest of the team or organisation. It's essential to get this type of awareness in all aspects and all levels. This is where leadership assessment tools such as the Lead and Manage report can offer us extra insights and incredible knowledge about who they are and their tendencies or preferences. Let's look at some of the basic leadership cultural types.
Leadership Assessment Tools
One of our Leadership Assessment tools is the Lead and Manage Assessment. The assessment includes the profiles, which allows us to delve into who they are and how they are currently adapting. This is crucial as you're looking at real-time influences on them and real-time things that you can discuss. The special cases that might be present in their profiles lead to productive and healthy discussions about how or why they might be feeling like they are. Again in leadership, this is pretty important because yes, they get under stress and yes, they get frustrated just like everyone else. The flexibility diamond is another incredible leadership assessment tool to identify to what extent they might be using energy or effort to make this type of adaption if they are adapting.
Understanding how they're adapting and how much energy it's taking is vital for leaders and even more for you as a coach or consultant. If this is a new leader or they are going through something new to them when it comes to adapting, their arrow will be longer or possibly point to the diamond's white areas. It's important you discuss these pages with them.
DISC Leadership Cultures
The assessment also describes natural leadership cultures. These DISC leadership cultures will help them understand aspects about themselves and how they operate as a leader. Understanding where your natural leadership culture evolves can highlight all sorts of good information for you to utilise as the leader or the coach. Remember that this is capturing
their natural style, so you'll need to check back with the diamond to see where they might be stretching to if they are adapting their DISC leadership style in some way. The report has a brief description of each leadership culture or type to get some great discussion going. If you look at the report, these descriptions cover a couple of pages and have each different leadership type around the diamond.
When we look at effective leadership, we can understand that it does come from all around the diamond. No one style is more successful. Each leadership type brings unique strengths, development areas, and their own leadership culture. You can see just by the name of the different types how they might impact people around them. Let take a quick look at the four of the central disc leadership styles.
D Personality Type
D style leaders have an authoritative leadership culture. They focus on an authoritarian style of leadership where the leader would prefer to be in almost complete control and in charge. It tends to be where the leader, managers and the employees follow due to pressure to attain the target and short term goals. The leader tells, and the followers listen. It's all about speed and quick execution. The feeling of speed and being in charge is typical of this DISC profile type. They tend to be comfortable with crises, and they don't mind making quick decisions, often without a lot of information. An area that can be a challenge for them is that they're so result-driven that they can see people as another resource. This lends itself to support the common view that they can be unempathetic, especially under pressure. Like anything, there are situations that this type of leadership works well. I've seen it, and it's necessary to get things moving or going. There are other times that this leadership style doesn't suit it and can cause tremendous resentment. What I'm saying here is no natural right or wrong for using these particular styles. Maybe they can adapt out of it at different times, that's great! There is a call for when you need that authoritative style in the workplace.
I Personality Type
The I type leader tends to be more informal and usually social. They focus on things like creativity, positivity and enthusiasm. A high energy environment is often more valued than accuracy, tasks or detailed rules. Emphasis on personal relationships and leading as a friend is quite common. However, they still do team to promote competitiveness but through inspiring and not necessarily putting pressure on people. Often their authority is based on charisma, motivation, producing a good atmosphere in which they're comfortable creating for others. The informal leader will often thrive in new evolving organisations that harness a lot of variety. They are seen as people leaders and need contact with people. Like we discussed before, there's understandably a need for this
type of leadership, but it needs to be at the right time with the right strategy and for the right kind of people that prefer this type of leadership. If you have a team member who needs far more planning and structure and far less high energy exerted, this might be problematic, and it could be time to adapt and do different things for that's those people.
S Personality Type
We view the S style leader as a supportive type of leader who guides, teaches and develops employees. An S style leader emphasises things like loyalty, consensus, trust and sincerity with the team. Supportive style leaders provide in-depth support to their team and expect to receive mutual support back. Their authority often comes from experience and expertise. However, they are comfortable maintaining a stable and service-oriented approach to their leadership. S personality type leaders emphasise gradual evolution whilst strongly focusing on agreed-upon long-term goals. So they often feel more comfortable leading a small team and show lots of participation and a hands-on approach. They can also lead larger teams when needed. I'm not saying they have to have smaller groups always, but they do tend to feel more comfortable. Like the other styles, there are times that gradual evolution of company or team goals is perfect. However, this pace may not always be suitable for every stage of growth. They have to adapt.
C Personality Type
Lastly, the C style leader emphasises quality things like following rules and compliance. The quality type leader tends to maintain distance from the team and, therefore, might create less interpersonal connection. That is often okay in many industries that have different values and interpersonal relationships. We often perceive C types as been a bit aloof from people at times, and it's probably a little bit more noticeable by team members that need more connection, like the I and S types that tend to sit in the people quadrant. The quality leader focuses on things like a systemic approach and ensures everyone knows what the C style leader expects of them. They tend to prefer using emails and written directions to communicate as then they have evidence and history to look back on if needed. As a leader, they will analyse details and are interested in facts if a situation arises. They are more interested in knowing facts and that type of information than emotive or abstract feelings, which makes them feel a little uncomfortable. I know quite a few companies led by C styles where this is a great fit, and it works well. At times, the same person needs to adapt to keep their relationships a little more solid with different styles.
Like anything, we can gain insights from generalised information. Running a leadership assessment will give you complete information about the person.
The lead and manage assessment shows a lot of different motivators, development areas and strengths. These are wonderful for leadership
programs and you'd use them according to how you're implementing strength-based learning development or other development strategies. It also gives you insight into management versus leadership diamond, leading to a fascinating talk I have to say from experience. The diamond is divided into management aspects and leadership aspects and then, of course, strengths and motivators. These pages are critical to go through, especially if you're developing a program around them. However, one of the things I want to mention was don't forget that using their strengths also tends to be a predisposition to the overuse of a strength. When you get so comfortable with it that you use it continuously, it doesn't end up becoming or seen by many others as a strength. Instead, it becomes a hindrance to other people, and they can get frustrated. If you don't know about overuse or how to look at the overuse diamond, please familiarise yourself with it because what you'll find is in debriefing, and in any leadership program, there will be areas where people overuse their strengths. I'll give you an example of an I style leader. They become so participative, collaborative, and chat things through. Still, they might chat so much that they can become quite disruptive or a bit too friendly. When it comes time for discipline or putting the hard word out there, people feel very awkward because they're friends that have crossed the line. There are times where strengths can be excellent, but we can overuse them.
I have to say it's pretty typical that we don't all know our blind spots, especially when it comes to things like our overuse areas. We often think we're doing a tremendous job of using this incredible strength that's easy to use for us, only to find out later that it can be frustrating our team and delivered in the wrong way that can put many leaders on the defensive. There's a couple of great pages in the lead and manage assessment that sees us looking at how others view our communication and how they see different perspectives of us as leaders. Knowing this information is essential and a way to jumpstart development. This is a perfect time for me to mention that 360 feedback is brilliant in this area.
Open 360 Feedback
The 360 assessment tool can measure the skills, behaviours and competencies of an individual leader. I need to remind you though it's an entirely separate tool to a behavioural assessment, so it's not DISC related. You can use 360 feedback in many areas such as performance appraisals, succession planning and team development. 360 feedback is excellent for looking at and analysing leadership as a whole. For those that are not familiar with it, 360 feedback is designed to measure the opinion of a group of people who work closely with the leader. We would gain input from the leader and anonymously gather results from their peers, direct reports, and manager. This type of feedback delivered well can be an excellent reality check. I have to emphasise the word delivered 'well'. I've witnessed organisations providing feedback incorrectly. It was a horror story. The person receiving the information was on the back foot and upset by things said in the feedback. Staff perception versus others perception is pretty essential to unleash your leadership potential.
Toward the back of the Lead and Manage Assessment, there are some powerful pages detailing leadership competencies under various leadership areas. These areas will help you build more depth in looking at and analysing behaviour in areas such as motivating people, directing people, their decision-making style, their communication style and how others view your communication style. All these competency areas provide insight into leadership development.
Some of the pages have a workbook style. What I've found is as I've been debriefing to break it up by getting the client to put down their thoughts in some of these areas. I know a lot of you are already coaching and consulting and will have your program made up, but for those of you who are just starting, these little workbook areas are ideal for capturing
thoughts along the way.
Leadership Development Plan
Some of the last few pages in the lead and manage assessment are also beneficial. I've spent a lot of time looking and writing and some impactful development plans and programs from these tips. The leadership development program can go anywhere from six to twelve months or even 2-3 years just using the lead and manage assessment information. It's entirely up to you which information you pull out, but I found the development tips particularly helpful as they highlight areas for improvement. They include how-to and improve yourself and suggested hints and tips corresponding to those areas. For example, there is a general area on how to improve your success as a leader. It contains
reminders, suggestions of what to potentially avoid, and development areas. With the development areas, be careful as you may not need to develop all of those that you see in the list, and if you've got your way of delving into areas that need development with different action plans, then this is a great area to look into. I find it great to give the client a few tips to better manage themselves around or in their team. What I find even more so is Open Preview in your FinxS account. You can select the candidate you want to bring up, and you can run lots of additional tips in different areas such as communication and retaining relationships. You also have access to the Tip Groups report, which includes the above tips and others, such as improving with a C style or a D style etc. There's even a very brief action plan at the back of the report. It's a workbook style page picking out three strengths and three development areas. I would expect most of you to have an action plan or development program to take this information and develop it correctly.
To conclude, everyone can be a leader if they want. However, only a few become great leaders. Regardless of whether you've worked your way up through the corporate ladder or just starting your business, the route to leadership is never an easy one. You will encounter various types of situations, emotions, various people and their needs. There will be good times, and there will be stressful times when becoming a good leader. However, a great leader can always lead a team to success regardless of the situation that they're facing, as impossible as it sounds sometimes. We know that influential leaders are often determined by how well they interact with their employees and others. Their competence to relate, communicate, influence, and motivate others is a critical skill these days in modern leadership. It's clear that a successful leader is also aware of themselves and know how they are, especially concerning things like strengths and development areas, communication, how to motivate their teams, how different their teams are to them. Also, what natural style they have in leading other people, so they are aware of modifying and adapting from one interaction or situation to the next, sometimes inspiring others and being charismatic and at times directive and authoritarian. Being self-aware, among other leadership qualities, is critical when unleashing your leadership potential.