Padgett, Stratemann & Co. ''The Leader Within''
By John Wright, CPA, Managing Partner, Padgett Stratemann
Many of us have either attended leadership development programs or sent current or emerging leaders within our team to the same types of programs. The programs all have some benefit to the individual, but the difficulty is translating new individual leadership behaviors effectively into the organization. We have all experienced it – coming back armed with new communication tools, new perspectives on dealing with peers, employees or customers, and so on – energized to take on new challenges. However, real life sets in and others in your organization don’t have the same new energy or understand your new perspective or even lingo, and it is difficult to keep the momentum of effective change. So how do you make that different? Over the last 10 years, we have been focusing on a new type of development and we believe it is making a difference. While we are constantly learning and trying to improve, we have learned some lessons that I believe are worth sharing.
- Focus on the Inside Out – Many leadership development programs are focused around equipping participants with effective leadership techniques or tools. To get the most out of the experience, find programs that really focus on the individual and self-awareness. Empowering people with a strong understanding of themselves allows them to better relate to and understand others. This is an extremely important element in deepening relationships. There is power in vulnerability that can only come from really focusing “on the inside out;” then equipping individuals with skills becomes much more effective. We have found that the Center for Character Based Leadership does an excellent job in creating safe environments for people to better understand themselves and others, with an exponential impact on their ability to then relate (communicate, develop, resolve issues, etc.) with others.
- Stay the Course – Leadership development is a journey, not an event. Critical to effective development is the long-term commitment to the individual and the group. Programs that are well structured over time and linked with strategic objectives bear much more fruit than any short-term development program. Taking an individual and organizational “lifelong learning” approach requires planning, adaptability and, most importantly, an established understanding from both that learning and growth is a never ending expectation.
- Spread the Wealth – The firm, like many, have sent people to leadership development programs for many years. Typically, when identifying an emerging leader or two and investing in a program, we expect them to come back and incorporate their learning into their daily lives, as well as share what they learned for the benefit of others. Certainly, these programs add value. However, it is very difficult to gain long-term traction if others in the organization haven’t been exposed to the same learning opportunity. Exposing your entire leadership team to the same development process, together, significantly speeds up the process of comprehensive change. Speaking a common language and recognizing and reinforcing leadership behaviors creates a much quicker and longer-lasting return on your development dollars. In addition, the learning example that becomes evident to the emerging leaders that will be exposed to the same development opportunities in the future has tremendous value.
- Integrated Learning – Lastly, to get the full comprehensive value from leadership development, organizational integration of the learning principles is a must. Certainly, the individual learning is important, but if the culture or organizational acceptance of individual change is ineffective, then the program is ineffective and we would simply have a higher number of well-equipped managers and not leaders.