The Building Blocks of Leadership
By Kristen Bakalar, BlessingWhite Consultant
Building blocks are a classic toy that children have played with since the 1930s. Though the product line has undergone extensive expansion in the past 80+ years, the traditional building brick remains the most important component. It’s the foundation. With its unique tube system and interlocking principle, the building possibilities are endless. Leadership is no different. The basic foundations of leadership apply whether you are 20 or 60, and whether you just got your first direct report or if you’ve been leading global teams for the last half-century. Skills like communication, resolving conflict, teamwork, and emotional intelligence are concepts that apply at every level of leadership, and at every level within an organization. These leadership fundamentals are ubiquitous. And, like the old building blocks, they are timeless.
First train… then promote
Organizations spend so much time and money on developing their leaders – and rightfully so! According to Center for Creative Leadership, organizations who prioritize leadership development realize a 66% increase in business results. But development efforts typically target managers already in the role, often neglecting those about to step into leadership positions. And that transition into leadership is difficult: first-time managers experience a major drop in productivity when they take on advanced responsibilities. So where are the building blocks for our future leaders? We should be providing the foundations of leadership today that they will use tomorrow… and for the rest of their careers.
At BlessingWhite, we spend a substantial amount of time developing senior managers and leaders who have many years of experience. Yet we sometimes find that, in the course of their prior development, they were not provided with the essential leadership fundamentals for a successful career. Peer feedback and assessments point to gaps in their capabilities because of bad habits they developed early in their managerial careers: bad habits they failed to identify and address along the way, bad habits that could have been avoided with the fundamental leadership skills akin to the traditional building brick.
Companies should be allocating the resources necessary to ensure that new managers are successful in their current positions, so they can emerge as the organization’s future leaders. Cultivating effective leadership through programs that teach the foundations of leadership like accountability, delegation, and communication is a sure way to provide your prospective stars with the building blocks of sound management practices. By developing this cohort of employees we are increasing their commitment to the organization, thereby increasing the effort they put forth and ultimately their performance level. The classic 10:6:2 Rule is being enacted here: every 10% increase in commitment results in a 6% increase in effort, which produces a 2% increase in performance (Ref: Corporate Leadership Council). Providing training to this group of individuals is imperative to retaining key talent as well as to promoting a company’s success.
Career possibilities are endless…if you rethink “career”
BlessingWhite’s upcoming career survey shows that 87% of employees agreed that “I don’t think there is anything wrong with staying in the same job if I can try new things or develop my skills.” Conversely, in a recent quick poll of over 200 people, we found that 27% of employees who recently quit had left their job due to “lack of growth opportunities.” Interestingly enough, developing the aforementioned population will help address both of these stats.
“Development opportunities and training” are top drivers of contribution – along with clarity and regular feedback. This makes sense: if you want employees to contribute strongly to the success of your organization, you need to provide them with the resources, knowledge, and skills to get the job done.”
Building the basics…forever
For the individual, we can provide personal growth by improving basic skills such as conflict management, emotional intelligence, and coaching. For the organization, we are cultivating employees with the skills necessary to grow, preparing them for the opportunities they need to stay engaged and committed to the company. To address both of these needs, BlessingWhite now offers a professional development suite geared towards this exact audience. We believe developing people – not just leaders – is paramount to an organization’s success, and so we are presenting 18 separate programs designed to meet the foundational management needs of rising superstars.
For example, what manager doesn’t need exposure to leading a team through change? Change, as we know, is inevitable in the workplace. The way a manager leads his/her team through a transition can have a major impact on the experience of the team, and it can influence turnover, productivity, engagement, and the like. Our half-day program, Leading Change, can provide new managers with the fundamental leadership skills to communicate effectively during a major or minor change in the company. This is a skill they will use until the day they retire (and probably afterwards, too).
The Professional Development Suite is designed to complement your existing learning curriculum, and can be adapted to meet your organization’s culture, values, and competencies. The objectives are easily achievable, and the results simple to measure. By looking at retention rates, engagement levels, and productivity, you will see how training this population helps expand your current development initiatives and contribute to your company’s bottom line.
Like the traditional bricks at the base of a model castle, BlessingWhite’s foundations of leadership skill-building will be the groundwork laid for effective management. Helping employees develop their people skills before they step into a leadership role will ensure they are prepared, confident, and ready to take on a new challenge. Not only will that development contribute to the employees’ personal growth, but it will add to their commitment, their ability to manage the transition, and ultimately their impact on the organization’s success. So let’s hand out the building blocks and start building the foundation.
For more information on how BlessingWhite can help your organization reach the next level, call 1.800.222.1349 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.