Here is another one of my quick and easy measures for the quality of leaders.
Growth & Development
Good leaders focus on the growth and development of people. If you want to test the caliber of a leader, just measure how much energy she spends on developing people. The concept is that there is vast reservoir of talent in all people that is ripe for development.
I estimate that all but the very best organizations typically get around 30% of the available energy and talent of their workforce. My estimate may be a bit off, but not too far.
Think of this. It would mean that we can double the productivity of the workforce and still have people working at roughly 60% of their capacity. Wow, what a great way to improve output and lower costs!
Of course you cannot achieve 100% of the energy of all people all of the time. That would require so much Adrenalin it would kill everyone. But we really don’t need the 100%. I contend there is so much pent up potential in most organizations, the upside is huge.
What holds us back? Well, it is a lot of factors I am describing in this series. One of the key ones is whether people have been given the skills to do their best work. Good leaders know this and put a lot of emphasis in the development of people.
You can contrast a development oriented leader with weaker leaders who do not seek to do much development. Weak leaders may be afraid that if they develop outstanding raw talent, they are in danger of being passed over by the newly-developed worker.
They may be too ignorant to realize that 1 hour in a good training program brings more than 3 incremental hours of productivity to the organization.
It may be that the organization is in such a state of panic, there is simply no time to develop people for the future. They simply need all hands on deck. This myopic viewpoint is similar to the orchestra playing their final numbers on the Titanic.
Look for the Following Important Signs
Another aspect of development is the degree to which the leader seeks to grow herself as an individual.
- Does she have a personal development plan that has been reviewed with her superior?
- Does she have discussion groups around some leadership or inspirational books?
- Is she enrolled in several professional organizations outside of work?
- Does she spend time going to at least one professional conference per year?
- Does she listen to recorded programs while driving?
- Does she regularly interface with professionals outside her organization on social networks?
- Does she have an active reading list?
All of these behaviors are signs of a person who is really interested in growing as a leader. When you see these signs, you know the person understands the value of continuous learning.
Leaders who want to develop others need to consider if they are modeling the above behaviors themselves.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc., a company dedicated to growing leaders. He speaks and conducts seminars on building trust in organizations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-392-7763.