Far from being a fad, strategies focused on leadership development have continued to grow in prominence in recent years. This growth is accompanied by an emerging body of research showing the most effective methods for building an engaged workforce - allowing organizations to craft more effective strategies.
As employers face an increasingly competitive labor market coupled with historic demands for innovation, leadership development strategies are quickly becoming the standard for organizations. To remain competitive organizations will have to harness cutting edge strategies and scalable cost-effective software.
Here are 5 rules for leadership development to keep in mind in 2019.
Remember it’s a two way street
Even at leading progressive organizations, leadership can often forget that they are the ones setting the standard for the behavior of their teams. We see this all the time on the ProHabits platform - when leaders attempt to implement a new strategy, but are conspicuously absent from participating in it, the initiative tends to fall apart.
So for your next engagement initiative, be sure to include yourself! Remember, as a leader you have followers and your followers look to you to model their daily behaviors. So, not only should you be an active participant in your leadership initiative -- you should be an exemplar.
Lead through service
Even without an explicit leadership development strategy, simply focusing on yourself and your own leadership can have a major impact on the inspiration of your team. Among the most engaging leadership strategies is servant leadership. This is exactly what it sounds like: a leadership philosophy where the leader’s goal is to serve.
Enacting this means focusing on those you lead before yourself and always being in the trenches right along with your team. The essence of servant leadership is simple, but it’s impact can be transformative for organizations.
Focus on strengths
One of the key contributions of positive psychology is demonstrating the benefit that comes from focusing on strengths rather than deficits. Among the clearest examples of this is the research revolving around feedback and how positive feedback is far more effective that “constructive” feedback. While constructive feedback is sometimes unavoidable, remaining positive and focusing on strengths is a far better rule for feedback.
When employees receive positive feedback they are reminded of the ways that they are already succeeding and how they can improve at what they’re good at - isnpiring a sense of intrinsic motivation in the recipient. What you’ll find is that, when people focus on improving their strengths, the problems that come with their deficits fade away anyway.
Offer avenues for growth
Today, young people early in their careers and those entering the workforce demand more opportunities for growth and to make a difference. This is especially the case for the best talent. However, not all industries and professions allow for a ready made path for advancement and professional development, but all professions can be focused on offering opportunities for personal growth.
Tasks should be framed in the light of personal development, rather than as chores to be completed. Of course, simply reframing/renaming tasks isn’t enough in addition your organization should offer the opportunities to engage on other tasks specifically designed to facilitate personal growth. This could be in the form of team building exercises or new elements to focus on in existing tasks.
Live your values
One of the most certain ways to infect your organization with cynicism is to advertise one set of values and to never practice them. When organizations do this the stated values become targets of mocking and derision. Just consider how one of Enron’s stated values was “integrity.”
Your organization decided on the values because they’re worthwhile aims, but sometimes organizations don’t consider what those values really mean in practice. When considering your engagement strategy these questions should be on your mind: “what do our values look like in practice?”, “what current practices don’t align with our values?”, and “how can we include more values aligned behaviors into our strategy?”
How synthesize them all into a single scalable strategy
Engagement strategies can be expensive - some estimates put the annual expenditure on engagement nationwide to be reaching $1.5 billion. However, the means to a more engaged workforce isn’t throwing more money at it - it’s harnessing emerging tech for scalable, cost-effective, leadership development strategies. These are exactly the sort of solutions ProHabits is working to deliver organizations everyday.
ProHabits delivers daily actionable activities to your whole team that target your organization’s unique needs and values. For leaders it provides clever ways to include better leadership habits into your daily routine, and for team members it provides engaging content that inspires them to live organizational values. Consider this: if your organization was able to better live its values how much more engaged do you think your employees would be?