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Out with the Old, In with the New: The Issue with Traditional Leadership Development Programs

Jason Diamond Arnold

September 20, 2018

We all love new things, right? Picture that special smell of a freshly opened can of tennis balls or brand-new leather jacket. That thick, robust aroma that lets you know the product is fresh off the press. It’s like that “new car smell” that’s crisp, pristine and mint. It’s like shopping for a new pair of shoes or a new tablet. The old version you own is worn-down, overworked or over-used and obsolete, so replacing it with a new version brings a level of excitement and anticipation.

Imagine leadership development is like this – it’s constantly updating and changing, becoming newer and more displaced from its original model with each passing year. As it changes, the older models of leadership development become more and more competitively disadvantaged, meaning you have to change with it in order to continue to thrive in a growth setting.

#Leadership development updates should happen regularly just like software on your computer. As new ideas flow into the industry, they change the way we view traditional leadership training. @InspireSoftware has the difference:Tweet This!

The Myths of Leadership Training and Employee Performance

Myth: All leaders are extroverts

You might be surprised when you read this, but many leaders aren’t extroverts. The real truth is great leaders aren’t all Type-A, go-getters. While some leaders may be quiet and more reserved, they still know how to connect with people and understand what it takes to inspire and motivate others. What makes a leader great is their ability to maintain a solid mindset and a strong level of determination. There are no bars on leadership qualities or characteristics because anyone can become a great leader, even if they don’t fit a perceived leadership stereotype. Additionally, there are no studies proving one specific character or type of leader makes a better leader than the other.

Just like the DISC assessment model, leaders come with their own strengths and means to lead. One could argue that introverts are more similar to the “S” section of the assessment due to the similarities in personality characteristics, but those characteristics don’t make them any less adept at leading. What could be mistaken as a quiet, socially awkward person could actually be a modest, steady and polite personality. Just because someone doesn’t identify as an extrovert doesn’t prove they can’t be a great leader beneath the surface.



Myth: Leaders work alone

There’s a saying: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” We are taught from a young age working in groups is difficult and you’re better off distancing yourself from the rest of the pack. This might have been helpful throughout college during class projects, but the reality is those who learn to work in groups and get help at a young age often make the best leaders. Today, effective leaders can work with and bring out leadership qualities in others. With so many organizations focused on diversity and inclusion, coaching is considered a core competency of great leadership.

Myth: Leaders only care about results

Most people are results driven. We want things to get done and want them done quickly. Building relationships and making sure everyone understands a plan often gets pushed to the wayside because it takes too much time. Leaders who do this become disconnected from others, meaning they are often looking for a way to get back into the group. About 70% of Americans are disengaged at work while 16% of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” by employers. This results in a lack of connection and positive relationship-building which also leads to low engagement and motivation. If you find yourself in this situation, think about switching to a more nourishing leadership style. Be hands on with the people working on a project and find a balance of work and life conversations.

Myth: Leaders are born to lead

It may not seem like it, but wanting to lead and being a leader are two drastically different things. Wanting to lead doesn’t make you a good leader. To be a great leader, you have to work for it. You don’t become captain of a professional sports team because you think you’d be good at it and want to give it a go. You get elected captain because you’ve shown your coaches and team you’re someone capable of being a leader. These leaders put in work to understand the goals of their team and how they’re going to lead them to those goals.

Myth: Leaders lead, followers follow

There’s an age-old assumption about leadership that suggests leaders must have followers in order to truly be leaders. This idea is similar to saying that a king needs subjects in order to rule as their sovereign. But this idea is more than flawed, it’s backwards. People come together to be stronger together. Leaders are merely the culmination of the group’s teamwork, strategies and ideas. Leadership stems from the ability to lead yourself first. After you have that mastered, those who like what you’re doing will come naturally and follow by example. Leaders don’t fit a certain mold – they develop at every stage to fit the needs of their organization over time. They can be anyone at any stage of an organization. Leadership changes how you can push your organization to meet its goals, not how you can meet the goals or needs of an individual.

Myth: #Leaders are born, not made. Why is this a myth? Find out in @InspireSoftware’s latest article:Tweet this!

The Added Value of New Leadership Training & Development

Millennials today don’t stay in one position for long, meaning 84% of organizations expect a leadership shortfall within the next 5 years. This brings added pressure to make sure the training you’re giving your leaders is good enough to meet goals in the time they’re at your organization, however long it might be. But this also means creating a leadership pipeline for your workforce, not just your current managers or upper-level leaders. In other words, you need to create a leadership culture across your entire organization to promote employee development and prevent leadership shortfalls. To avoid stifling innovation and leadership-oriented thinking in your company, you have to adapt new training methods and procedures for developing leaders from all experience levels – from the most junior positions to the most senior executives. Here’s how you can leverage a forward-thinking leadership training and development program:

Leadership Knowledge – Leadership development is a continuous process. New training and leadership programs means you’ll feel more comfortable and capable of leading yourself and those around you in different ways. This also means viewing leadership learning and training as a process in the flow of work. It’s more than just a forward-thinking process – it’s getting the training and development you need whenever and wherever you need it!

Leadership Innovation – Leaders who have a knowledge of framework can come up with more creative solutions and are better at problem solving. Being trained on where you fit in your organization and where everyone else fits in around makes it easier to be more innovative and come up with new ideas.

Career Orientation– Succession planning is also a continuous process for employees from all stages in the business. Creating a succession plan in your organization makes it easier for employees to be engaged and reach goals. Offering training programs and ensuring they have a future in their role or another one effects how everyone performs.

Goal Orientation – If you, as a leader, don’t know what goals are set, those following you don’t know them either. Training should focus on the gaps in your organization and how they are going to be filled. This training makes everyone aware of what the finish line looks like and what their role in the process is.

Leadership Development is a Process, Not a One-Time Event

No one wakes up one morning ready to lead something and your leadership development can not be revamped with one quick fix. Effective leaders are shaped into the role over time and with training. Additionally, leadership roles and how they are trained is changing all the time. To keep up with the times, your organization has to implement more than one development technique.

Leadership development changes each time a goal is made or set in your organization. It also changes with each new leader added to the roster. Set a guideline for how leadership should go in your organization, update and modify it with each change.

Increase your employee engagement, improve performance toward key business objectives, and develop customer loyalty to your organization’s products and services by implementing the leadership tactics in our latest whitepaper.