Develop your leaders

ESTIMATED READING TIME – 3:45

Learning goals for this activity

– Understand why developing your leaders is important to talent optimization.
– Be able to list and describe the three steps to take to maximize leadership impact.
– Explain some ways to collect people data to help leaders gain self-awareness.
– Describe how to best manage the similarities and differences between managers and the individuals on their team.
– Know best practices for delivering feedback within a given business context.

Why developing your leaders is important to talent optimization

Talent optimization requires developing leaders at every level to drive employee performance and engagement. It also includes identifying and evaluating leadership competencies and giving performance feedback within business context. Leaders should exist at all levels of your organization; they’re an asset you should continuously nurture and grow. This is because effective leadership competencies are the number one driver for high employee engagement—and the strong economic performance that results when your people are going above and beyond.

To maximize your leadership impact take the following actions:

  1. Create leader self-awareness.
  2. Meet the needs of others.
  3. Give performance feedback within business context.

1. Create leader self-awareness.

As a leader, it’s important that you develop individual and team awareness at all levels of the organization. At first, this may seem daunting. While senior executives tend to be more experienced in dealing with team dynamics and collaboration, junior individual contributors and new managers may have had no training—let alone experience—in being effective team members and leaders. Yet self-awareness is the key to fostering positive team dynamics at all levels, so you need to tackle the challenge head-on.

Great leaders are aware of their capabilities and their blind spots, and they continuously develop themselves to maximize the former and minimize the latter.

People data can help leaders at all levels gain self-awareness. There are several different ways to get the data you need. On the fly, leaders could go through the 360 review process so they can get an unedited look at how others perceive them. On the other end of the spectrum, reviewing results from assessments including personality, leadership competency, and personal values can all enhance a leader’s self-awareness.

Self-awareness is a gift that you should give every employee; the more self-awareness your people have, the more they can relate to and inspire their colleagues—and your customers.

2. Meet the needs of others.

Managing every employee in the same way is like giving every employee the same size shoes. In addition to self-awareness, leaders also need to be aware of the needs of others. When working with someone similar to yourself, managing them is intuitive. But when the person you manage is quite different than you, it takes deliberate effort to change your own behavior so that you interact with them effectively. For example, If you’re an extraverted manager who likes to talk things out, you may need to resist the urge to pop over to someone’s desk and interrupt them; book time to talk privately instead.

When people in an organization have proactively understood the similarities and differences between them—and they’ve negotiated the best ways of working together—magic happens.

3. Give performance feedback within business context.

Managers must drive business results while developing their people. Too many organizations operate in one mode or the other. By using business context to provide specific feedback, employees clearly understand why they’re meeting expectations or falling short.

Feedback should always be specific, constructive, and objective. Instead of telling a marketer he did a nice job writing a content piece, explain the number of page views or leads it generated—and how his effort directly contributed to your strategy to open a new market.

On average, employees feel that they don’t receive enough feedback from their supervisors and other leaders in the organization. All employees should be given some combination of the following:

  • Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with the direct supervisor
  • Real-time and periodic coaching that’s specific and actionable
  • Annual or semi-annual performance reviews
  • 360 reviews
  • Engagement surveys
  • Post-training certification results
  • Annual, semi-annual, or quarterly goal setting