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Archives For Leadership Development

Ask someone to name their weaknesses, and they fire off a laundry list of shortcomings without hesitation. But ask what they’re good at, and many tend to struggle for an answer. People struggle to identify their strengths for two reasons:

1. They’re embarrassed. Insecurities can keep us from admitting when we’re good at something.

2. They don’t recognize it as a strength. It’s easy for to see others strengths, but it’s not always easy to see our own.Sometimes we’re good at something naturally and for that reason we’re unaware that they are good at it.  A few months ago a friend mentioned a strength he had observed in my leadership. It caught me off guard because it was a behavior I knew it was something I did, but never considered to be a strength. Because he pointed it out, I now try to develop and practice this more intentionally.

It’s tempting when doing leadership development to identify weakness and try to help them grow from a three to and eight. But your time will be much better invested if you help the leader develop his or her strengths.

Try this exercise next time you meet with one of your staff members or someone you’re developing. Ask the following questions:

  • Name 5 to 7 projects or goals you’ve been working on for the past four weeks. Write a list on the whiteboard.
  • Where have you felt surges of energy during the past four weeks? What were you doing when you felt it?
  • What fruit or results have you seen in the past four weeks? What are the specific things you did to contribute to that outcome?
  • To what do you attribute those results, be specific? What response have you seen from others as you did this work?
  • Reverse engineer what you did well. Think about what you did well and why. Write down the skills you used to accomplish those things.
  • What do you learn about your strengths from these observations?
  • What are two or three things that you can put into practice over the next 30 days to sharpen that strength?

When you take someone through this process, there are three outcomes.

  • They will develop their strengths
  • They will begin to use the strengths with more intentionality.
  • It will increase their ability to develop others in that particular strength area.

Years ago when I taught the Teacher Training at our church I would attempt to shift their paradigm by telling them, “Teaching isn’t talking, listening isn’t learning.”  We make a fatal mistake in leadership development when our only approach to training is dumping information from the teachers mouth to the learners ears .  Dumping information doesn’t necessarily produce transformation.  But many organizations use an informational rather than a transformational approach to developing leaders. Here are some of the big differences between the two.

  • Informational tells learners what they need to know.  Transformational challenges learners to behave in new ways by putting principles into practice.
  • Informational dumps content.  Transformational develops competencies
  • Informational the trainer provides the relevant information.  Transformational the trainer adapts content to the need and competency level of the learner.
  • Informational is one-way communication. Transformational is a two-way dialogue
  • Informational uses a one dimensional form of lecture.  Transformational uses the multi-faceted approaches of adult learning.
  • Informational follows a linear pathway.  Transformational customizes learning based on the learners present situation, curiosities and needs

What percentage of your leadership development efforts are Informational versus Transformational?  What steps can you take to increase the percentage of Transformational training?

Not everything we call leadership development is truly leadership development.

One of your staff members has a vacancy on his team, he looks around to find a new leader to fill the empty spot.  As he scrolls his finger over the names on the church roster he thinks to himself, “He’s not ready, she’s not ready, he’s not ready…oh, there’s someone that’s ready.” So he recruits them, places them and the gap is filled.

Unfortunately, that’s how many people are doing “leadership development” today.  But that’s not leadership development; that’s leadership placement.  Big difference.

  • Leadership development is looking for willingness not just readiness
  • Leadership development is walking along side someone for an extended period of time helping them learn the skills of leading
  • Leadership development is seeing potential in someone and developing that potential to its fullest capacity
  • Leadership development is giving them tasks of leadership before giving them the title of leader.
  • Leadership development is taking time to build their confidence and competence, not just handing them a job description and “empowering them”.
  • Leadership development means I’ve made the relational investment that goes way beyond recruiting and follows through the development process.

Let’s make a commitment to doing more leadership development and a lot less leadership placement in 2015.