Great Leaders Don’t Fit the Models
The Ongoing Debate: What traits make a leader?
Without the tools we’ve just thrown away, how can we identify the future leaders of the company?
The risk is that the company will turn mediocre and then irrelevant.
Current “leadership development programs” assume there’s a specific set of capabilities that can be learned, and this includes personal attributes (“self-awareness”).
Assumptions: leadership ability can be broken down in components; leaders possess the same set of skills and attributes that can be developed if one doesn’t possess them already. [already funny, right?]
Regardless of different models of CEO traits, all of them are based on the belief that leaders can be made. [A small conflict of interest as the developers of these models sell consulting services.]
What Are Leadership Assessments Actually Assessing?
The outcome is a list of strengths [to develop further] and weaknesses [to address].
Assessment of attributes often makes it into performance reviews.
Some companies have training programs to master some of these skills.
(And how not to confuse narcissist behaviour for confidence?)
Every rule is elusive as there are lots of other successful leaders breaking it.
We Use Teams Because One Person Can’t Be Good at Everything
People adapt to strengths and weaknesses of themselves and others; surrounding people with strengths balancing your weaknesses is important.
Followers also adapt to the weaknesses of their leaders.
Great companies’ CEOs recognise and exploit potential of good ideas and people.
The goal is maximising the good qualities of a team and at the same time minimising their weaknesses.
Instead of focusing on a collection of skills from different employees, companies try to develop all skills in all of them, which is a mistake.
Drive + talent are the two defining skills.
Trying to Be Good at Everything Is the Way to Achieve Mediocrity
True, companies investing into employees outperform those that don’t.
Trying to get everyone to be better at everything inhibits leadership development.
People may get discouraged by having to take topics/subjects they don’t want or have no use for.
Training programs may limit the horizons due to the focus on wrong topics instead of expanding them.
Training programs also lag the actual speed of world development. They also must not be a replacement for people’s natural curiosity.
There’s No Recipe or Checklist for Self-Actualisation
None of the things that bring a person forward are company or school sanctioned.
Having children teaches to deal with other people on their terms. [MK: couldn’t agree more]
Not fitting in the job, but getting trained on something one doesn’t need does nothing to find passion and self-actualise.
But what can work?
Do offer training, but make it a mix of in-house, external and “you get to choose” classes.
Internal programs: determine up to 5 skills you would like all participants to master.
Coaching, feedback and conflict resolution are good skills to master.
Onboarding and manager training are a good idea, too.
Encourage employees to seek training and conferences of their own choosing (usually – outside of the immediate area of responsibility) and ask them to share with others. [MK: we’ve had this in Aviasales from very early days]
Look for people who get the job done and volunteer to help others and with information – and promote them.
Also (optionally) offer employees to apply to leadership programs requiring a lengthy application process to weed out those without ambition.