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Leadership and Learning – An Essential Combination

March 27th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan


The best and most successful leaders recognize that the learning journey never stops. They know their strengths, and look for opportunities to leverage them. They also acknowledge that there are areas where they aren't as strong and need to continue to develop.





One of the challenges for new and emerging leaders is determining what skills and behaviors - competencies - are the most important to be an effective leader today and into the future. A Google search will result in myriad lists of "top" skills for leaders. "The Top 10 Leadership Competencies" (Psychology Today), "The 5 Most Important Competencies for Function Leaders" (Center for Creative Leadership), "The Most Important Leadership Competencies According to Leaders Around the World" (Harvard Business Review).





In a review of these lists, there are several core competencies that bubble to the top: strategic thinking, effective communication, a desire to develop others, decision making, creating a vision, ability to have tough conversations. And, of course, trust and integrity. THAT should be a no-brainer. As far as I'm concerned, integrity has to be at the foundation of leadership, 'cause if you don't have that, nothing else matters!





These are some of the traditional skills that make an effective leader. But there are additional skills that have become increasingly important over the past few years as we look at a new way of working in the 21st century. Skills like emotional intelligence, self-awareness, collaboration, global thinking, agility and future focus.





When was the last time you did an inventory of your leadership competencies - both strengths and development areas? What are you doing to prepare yourself to overcome the challenges, and leverage the opportunities, as a leader in the future?





I recently went to an inspiring talk by John Chambers, former CEO and now Chairman Emeritus of Cisco, and author of the recently-published Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World. He spoke about taking Cisco from a $70 million, 400-employee company (1991) to a $47 billion tech giant (2015) and how important it was to have clarity around who he was as a leader - during both the good and the not-so-good times. He emphasized that you have to always be preparing for what's next.





Think about this: Gen Z (born 1995-2012) employees will have 12 jobs in their lifetime. Six of those jobs aren't event invented yet.





What do you need to do to prepare yourself to lead multi-generational teams? How will you lead as artificial intelligence becomes an integral part of the way we work? What are you doing to keep your competencies current and ready for what's next?





"The worst thing to do when things are running smoothly is to get comfortable. You've always got to be thinking what's next." - John Chambers





Till next time,





Karen


Career planning, Leadership, leadership development, learning and development

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Effective Leaders Develop Their People

July 26th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  - Former CEO of GE, Jack Welch

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of your continuing to grow and develop as a leader. Now let’s talk about the importance of growing and developing your people. Both are essential if you want to prepare your organization to succeed today and into the future.

Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized.  Providing them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company demonstrates in a very real way that they are integral to the organization and its success. And when employees feel that kind of connection they will be more engaged and loyal.

Employee development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing, etc. The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.

Too often development opportunities are limited to “fixing” an employee’s weaknesses rather than leveraging and developing their strengths. Yet, according to Gallup, organizations that focus on employee strengths have higher engagement, less turnover and a better bottom line.

Create development plans that take into consideration organization goals and the skills and behaviors employees will need to contribute to achieving those goals. It’s also essential that individual employee career goals and personal interests be taken into account in development plans. All too often employees have skills and talents that are under-utilized. In fact, 74% of employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential. (The Learning Wave)

Also consider the skills and behaviors employees will need in the future to succeed (yes, even if it’s not in your organization).  According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in 2020 will be:


  1. Complex problem solving

  2. Critical thinking

  3. Creativity

  4. People management

  5. Coordinating with others

  6. Emotional intelligence

  7. Judgment and decision making

  8. Service orientation

  9. Negotiation

  10. Cognitive flexibility


  11. Creating, implementing and supporting development plans for your employees will not only help keep them loyal and engaged, it will ensure that your organization is ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

    "The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay." - Henry Ford

    Till next time,

    Karen

     

     

    Development, Engagement, Leadership, Professional development, Teams

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