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Keys to Effective Leadership

By Jim Naughton, ILG Contributor

Addressing the Leader Mindset

Does your leadership development program move the needle on the leader behaviors that make a difference? With organizations increasing their leadership training spend between 25-30 percent, it makes sense to focus keenly on what kinds of leaders we want in our organization. There’s a lot to being a great leader, and no single word of wisdom is the ultimate key to the kingdom.

That said, a certain mindset is a foundational component of great leadership. One’s mindset is a predicate for many specific behaviors that truly differentiate the best from the rest. By mindset, I mean how one thinks about the role of a leader and the reasons for wanting to be in that role. Some step into the role because it’s a validation of their own individual competence and a reward for their outstanding contributions. Others may be attracted to the higher compensation, status, or other perceived perks. But alas, if these are the primary motives, the battle has already been lost.

It’s Not About You

If your primary reason for wanting to be a leader is about you, your day-to-day behavior will be about you too. But the people you wish to lead will see that quickly and will tune out shortly thereafter. Great leaders realize early on that it’s not about themselves. When you practice selflessness and lead for the benefit of others, you have the potential to do more than merely occupy the space on the organizational chart. If you want a terrific personal account of someone’s journey towards selflessness, read Enough About Me by Richard Lui. There are also many excellent resources under the topic of “servant leadership” that focus on a similar vein. And you can reach back even further to Leo Tolstoy who said, “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.”

What’s in Your Curriculum?

Everyone who starts on the path to become a leader should begin by understanding their own interest and motivation. The leader is one who serves. Sometimes we in the learning community omit or obscure that important message in our haste to teach tactical skills, such as delegation, feedback, and coaching. But if you delegate simply to serve you, eventually your effectiveness is capped well below its potential. It’s worth examining your leadership curriculum to see if the foundational message is clear. Even better, make sure it has been taken to heart and that leaders are acting with a servant mindset at the forefront.

Effective Leadership Development

While a leadership mindset is not the only important thing needed to ensure an effective development experience, it’s a critical part of a healthy and robust program. A periodic assessment of your curriculum can often lead to improvement in the content, delivery, ongoing support, and results connected to what you spend on leader development. ILG has not only helped several client organizations examine and improve their leadership programs but also  design and develop new experiences for leaders. When you undertake the next review of your programs, make sure the leader mindset is on your list so your leaders can thrive.

Jim Naughton is a freelance senior performance consultant. He has more than 40 years of experience in the training and performance improvement industry. Jim was on staff at Innovative Learning Group from 2018 to 2023.

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