Leadership Expertise Takes Work, Personal Work

Leaders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some leaders are charismatic, others are commanding and stern. But there are very few executives with skills, knowledge and expertise who haven’t worked hard to build themselves into who they are today. The truth is, leadership expertise takes work, personal work. And at a time when we need incredibly competent, fast-adapting leadership, our resources are unseasonably strained. So what can we do to change these trends and help shape powerful leaders? Here are a few thoughts that help explain the “how” behind leadership expertise.

Team based Learning

Trendy as it may be, team-based learning is “in.” It may have taken us awhile, but we’ve finally discovered that you can’t expect an executive team to act like a team if they don’t train like a team. Equally interesting, we now know that to develop skills with people, you need actual people doing the development. That means face-to-face facilitation, arguing concepts and testing all occur in a personal environment. This is more successful than online or self-directed methods, which are fine for planned reinforcement, additional examples or further dialog, but not for initial content delivery and discussions.

Professional Evolution Is Critical

Here’s where the work comes in, because as leaders, we need to understand that what got us here can’t get us there. In other words, to become or even remain successful, executives must be in a mode of constant learning and professional evolution. Besides, rising to the top doesn’t always mean you were best qualified, even with well-designed and executed succession planning.

Development, Development, Development

Today’s executives are uniquely exposed to constituents and flaws that were nearly unnoticeable yesterday but are flagrant today. It’s through constant coaching and development that leaders are able to stay at the top of their game.  Top-performing athletes, musicians, military, etc. train incessantly, even if already recognized as top in their fields. What makes us think that executives with way more moving parts and impact don’t need that same level of development?

Interestingly, there is a strong correlation between long-term success and how people view leadership development. Short-sided CEOs see executive development as a cost, while long-haul producers and those who want to succeed, realize that executive education, learning, and development is the key to success. There is no magic bullet or a fancy plan with intricate details to guide executive expertise. In fact, it’s not rocket science at all, but a very simple strategy of the right training, constant personal growth and consistent development.

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