Business Owners and CEOs understand the importance of developing and supporting their key people as a top priority for business growth

25th Feb , 2016

What do successful leaders say is important with people?

We all know that great people and strong teams are the foundation of business success and growth in Australia and around the world.

Many people arrive with strong technical skills and these can and are taught and honed.  Critically the less tangible skills such as leadership and interpersonal skills require the same investment but with a slightly different approach.

What does leadership development need?

Leadership needs many qualities to be development in people.  For example, some of the most successful CEOs shared their views on leadership qualities such as:

  • The ability to listen
  • Connecting great people to each other
  • Sharing problems
  • Grasping the challenge
  • Act and think like a leaders
  • Being future focused and fix what is in front of you
  • Developing diverse teams
  • Cultivating relationships outside the organisation
  • Nurturing and maintaining networks
  • Keep on learning
  • Be flexible yet disciplined

Comfort zones need to be breached

Leaders do not evolve inside their comfort zones. As key people progress through leadership roles they must want to and actually put themselves out of their comfort zones and learn from these experiences.

Are leaders born or trained?

Leadership and interpersonal skills come naturally to some people, whereas some people simply find these harder to acquire, not unlike all areas of technical skills. So the approaches to learning may need to be tailored to suit the individual.

What is the impact of size and complexity of the business on leadership development?

Size and complexity has an enormous impact on leadership development.

Large organisations

Larger organisations that are more complex will need to invest greater amounts in the development of their leaders and it should be formally budgeted for to ensure that the benefits are delivered. The benefits should include an improved competitive advantage in the market. For example, how well the organisation adapts to changes in customer demand or supply chains can be critical for survival and success, as is developing and implementing practical strategy.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs are often less complex businesses (compared to the large organisation, but not always) and may be at a stretch point or have simply outgrown their ability and experience in leadership to push the business further and grow in their market.

These businesses may not have the resource to systematically develop leadership, and should consider specific business mentors for key people including the owners.  Some SMEs may also find that the investment in management leads to a loss of these valuable people to their competition. Therefore some forms of retention incentives may be necessary to keep the benefits of staff development inside your own business.

What resources to allocate to leadership development?

The investment in leadership development depends on the opportunity to lift the game of the organisation and compete in the market. This has also to be balanced against how long you want to keep your leaders. Do you want to develop from within or get a proportion from outside and integrate these? These are strategic decisions. You also need to look at the cost as in any investment. What is the likely return on investment (ROI)? Hence my comments above that if you invest in people you should want to keep them long enough to get the return on the investment, including encouraging them to pass on their skills to the next generation coming through.

Are our business mentors a good resource for developing leadership?

Our well-matched business mentors can fill in the leadership gaps with appropriate experience is a cost effective way. This is by improving individuals on their leadership skills and their business acumen. Our International Business Mentors will also help with the wide range of business thinking and previous experience to broaden out and support your aspiring and developing leaders.

Chris Cartney, May 2015


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