You better develop your own leaders… because HR’s not going to do it.

I was reminded (again) this week that just because someone says it’s a priority doesn’t make it so. True across the board: politics, government, military, and from the C-suite on down.

This reminder was about leadership development, of course, because that’s what we do. Do you think development is important in your organization? One quick way to tell: who’s in charge of it?

I’m re-plowing old ground here, since we’ve been over this time and again, but you leaders are wasting time and money on developing your younger leaders if HR is in charge of your leadership development program(s).

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against HR. Some of my best friends are HR professionals. Okay, not really, but there are some that I like and respect a lot.

It’s not that HR doesn’t have a role in your development program(s); it’s just that leaders develop leaders, not personnel, EEO or benefits specialists. I do appreciate when a senior HR leader develops others in his/her organization – if they’re not, they’re doing the organization a disservice – but you can’t develop leaders by telling them what color(s) and letter(s) they are.

If the C-suite doesn’t actively participate in the development of leaders in their organization, don’t count on it happening at any level below that. There is no way to reinforce and hone leadership skills without someone above being part of the effort. How else can a developing leader (and aren’t we all one) take risks without fear of paying for failure with their jobs? How else can they try new skills and measure success without someone who is involved to help them gain clarity about what’s working and what’s not?

You can teach people about supervision (reinforcement) and management (process), but leadership (people) development is a hands-on process that HR can merely facilitate. Don’t try to pin accountability on HR, though; the results are up to you leaders.

We can all wear buttons that tell others that we’re green until we get red under stress. Knowing I’m a type C or A or an STBJ doesn’t actually help anyone know what motivates me or makes me feel appreciated. How will you know if your team feels like they’re doing worthy work if you don’t ask them? HR sure isn’t going to tell you.

This week’s reminder was a CEO lamenting about how his senior directors needed development. Turns out neither he – nor the CxO – was particularly engaged in the last effort. They left it to HR and never considered the coincidence that all the senior directors had the same problems.

Hint: if you have a problem with a direct report, it might be them. If you have the same problem with all your direct reports… well, if everything around you smells like shit, you should check your own shoe.

If you leave developing your team to someone else, you might as well expect them to teach your pig to sing while they’re at it. You won’t be happy with the results in either case.

How about you? Who’s leading your team’s leadership development efforts?

It’s up to you, leaders.

Imposters Among Us… and What To Do With Them

Seems like I’ve talked to an awful lot of imposters lately.

Run of the mill people, important people, people who used to work for me, and people I’ve worked for. We laughed at “not getting found out” as our careers progressed up the ladder, feeling like we were faking our way through success. Classic imposter syndrome – successful from the outside looking in with a self-perception of barely-concealed incompetence from the inside looking out. (more…)

Strategy is NOT a Four-Letter Word

            … but it leaves the same taste in my mouth

Why do we make so many things harder than they have to be?

If you think about it more than a nanosecond, that question applies to more aspects of our lives than just work, but I’m a consultant, not a therapist. So, I think I’ll stick to business and confront one of my least favorite subjects: setting strategy for next year.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to my next strategy session. I can picture it: a “retreat” with other executives, wishing we were anywhere else and wondering what’s for lunch. And that doesn’t actually sound so unattractive, unless you’re the guy or gal who has to keep everyone’s attention focused on the task at hand.
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Is your competition a terrorist?

No doubt many of you have been looking toward 2018 lately, adjusting your strategy and plans to make it a(nother) successful year. Whatever methodology you use, researching what the competition is doing is critical. What many organizations miss, however, is how the competition’s leadership is contributing to their success.

I think that’s a blind spot that causes us to underestimate the opposition, brought on by our overconfidence in our own leadership acumen.
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Five Thing My Mentors Modeled For Me

A long time ago, in a land far, far away…

Does anyone else remember when being called a mentor was something special? Back before we started using it in performance evaluations? Before we had to ask, and maybe pay someone to mentor us? Before it was a buzzword?

I certainly do, and I’m thankful for the group of professionals who served as mentors to me during my occasionally tumultuous military career. They were leaders all, and as I’ve mentioned before, leaders develop leaders… that’s their job.

Take, for instance, the, “Kevin, I’m not trying to change who you are, but you don’t have to be you so hard all the time.” (Thanks, Mike.) I might have used that one a time or two as I tried to pay it forward by passing the lessons I learned to those I’ve led and mentored.
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