How do businesses develop managers to become good leaders?

good leaders helping othersAmbitious people often aspire to becoming senior managers in their organisations and some achieve their goal, but how much thought is given to whether they will be good leaders?

Training is essential for many professions but in many businesses, it is often the case that people are promoted into management jobs because they were good at something else.

While the individual may have been a top performer in their role, it is rarely asked whether that makes them capable of managing other people performing those roles.

Unfortunately, the skills required to manage people well are often a completely different to the skills needed to get on the job ladder and show promise early in a career.

Good leaders need both people skills and strategic sense. They need to be well-organised, know how to prioritise without micro-managing, know how to recruit and motivate the right people and how to handle difficult conversations and decisions.

A two-day management training course is not enough

Business profitability is dependent on management for setting goals, planning and implementation. Getting support for achieving the goals and implementing the plans involves people skills, to engage and communicate with others and motivate them in pursuit of the productivity they assume.

Such people skills are rare and not innate to even the most skilled operator in their chosen field.  They have to be learned, developed and practiced, ideally without causing too much damage although mistakes will be inevitable.

Often, managers are thrown in at the deep end with little support and even where there is some acknowledgement that training is needed two-day management training courses are not enough.

Business culture is also a major factor when developing leaders. Given that mistakes will be made, a blame culture will discourage initiative or even decision making so embracing mistakes as an opportunity for learning is imperative. It might however be right not to tolerate making the same mistake more than once.

Therefore, if a business wants good leaders it needs to create the right culture and invest time and effort into helping develop leadership skills.

There are any number of leaders who have published details of their daily schedule, which invariably includes everything from getting up before dawn, fitting in some exercise or yoga, a healthy, energising breakfast drink, to detailing precisely the time it should take for every activity in the diary for that working day as well as extra-curricular time spent on worthy activities “giving something back”.

What is often missing is how they developed their people skills and allocate time for ongoing personal leadership development, for reflection on their own performance, for learning and crucially time spent learning from others whether role models, senior managers, colleagues or subordinates,

Good leaders, in my opinion, need training and practice with ongoing support and mentoring long after taking up their first role as a leader. This will be painful as it involves acknowledging mistakes and feedback on how effectively they have managed situations.

Like most rewarding achievements, effort and pain will reap the benefits of success so long as achieving goals, self-awareness and awareness of others are incorporated into the skill set. This is not for everyone.

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