Developing Extraordinary Leaders

In a previous article we looked at the five practices that extraordinary leaders use. In this article we look at developing leadership skills.

Some people believe that because a person has been promoted to a management position this means that their existing (proven) skills and qualities will make them an effective leader. But this approach denies the fact that excellence in leadership is a journey and so requires the manager to continually grow and develop their leadership skills. Also, leaders can, and do, exist at all levels of an organisation – first line supervisors also need some leadership ability. Therefore, if you deny those starting on their management careers the chance to evaluate and improve their leadership skills then you are effectively also denying them the chance to develop into exceptional leaders of the future.

Helping managers to understand their strengths and build on them and also to know their weaknesses and work out ways to address these is therefore an important element of leadership development.

Quite simply, exceptional leadership starts with self-awareness. When a manager knows what works and what they therefore could do differently it is then a short step to creating a meaningful and robust action plan for their future leadership self-development.

One way managers can get information on their leadership performance is through the process of 360 degree reviews. However, these can often be seen as a threat by managers and are costly in terms of administrative/HR time.

Another way of helping new managers assess and improve their leadership is through attendance of open training courses, such as our introduction to management course, where they can benchmark what they currently do against best practice and receive independent advice and coaching from the tutor.

Understandably, some managers also find attending an open course where they will be with senior managers from other organisations a daunting prospect, but those who have experienced this sort of training have found that it can act as a powerful and motivational force for their future development.