Leadership and Team Development

“Leading and Learning are indispensable to each other”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

team development

When you consider the single ingredient that sets an organization or company apart from its competitors, make no mistake - it is leadership. Never before has there been such a strong case made regarding the impact of leaders. And what in this tumultuous time do we believe defines a leader? Fortunately we have abandoned the notion that there is a fixed "tool box" of skills and experiences. What has replaced it is a sense of what a leader must be able to do, how they must perform, the outcomes they must produce. Our list, based upon our experiences, would include great communication skills, high emotional intelligence, and a leadership presence that simultaneously establishes them as leaders and makes them accessible. Leaders also bring the intellectual gifts, a willingness to develop others, and the ability to inspire, engage, and motivate. You can certainly add to this list but the attributes we have mentioned tend to show up in our conversation with leaders and when we talk about leadership.

Society's expectations of a leader is changing and placing tremendous pressure on leaders to figure it out and respond accordingly. Our leadership coaching and development practice has witnessed a shift in what leaders perceive as their role and the expectations of them in terms of performance and behavior. In response, leaders must be agile and open to learning, not so much in terms of new skills but more in how they use their skills and experience in being effective. We work to ensure they are moving in the right direction. Leadership coaching is best described as an intense collaboration with a thoughtful and honest thinking partner. The primary goal of a coach is to support a leader in achieving their potential. The range of leadership and coaching engagements can vary from very specific "career derailers" that are hampering a leader's efforts to a wider examination of a leader, their style, and the extent to which they are working for them to working with an accomplished CEO who needs another set of "eyes and ears" to evaluate a series of business opportunities in terms of fit, profitability, and human capital.

Leadership Development includes an array of activities and services that focus on increasing leadership competency and effectiveness and assisting organizations in accelerating the growth of emergence leaders. Within this category the firm has designed and conducted leadership institutes and seminars; taught a number of classes for managers and leaders; conducted workshops and learning circles for high potentials within companies and organizations; and, designed innovative approaches to train Boards of Directors seeking to improve performance.

Leaders (both staff and board) have a profound impact on the culture of an organization. Efforts to shift culture or adopt a culture that is a better fit as the organization moves forward are closely linked to the leaders, their values, behaviors and decisions. Our efforts to introduce change in an organization's culture are usually accomplished in collaboration with the leader and, in a recent experience, with a governing body who failed to realize the impact of their failure to support the mission of their organization. A lack of understanding and inadequate acknowledgement of the importance of culture has doomed several large scale transformational efforts.

Along with Leadership, Teams are increasingly viewed as integral to an organization's success. They are seen as the answer to the dual challenge of high performance and greater productivity, without additional expenditures. Putting together the skills to assemble a team, creating the conditions for a successful coordinated effort, and producing the desired outcome is complex. The list of required attributes and desired behaviors is daunting.

In our work with teams, we focus primarily on the team leader. We bring a depth of understanding regarding the "what" that will be needed: good communications; the ability to teach and model behavior; an understanding of group dynamics; knowledge of how to build a team and keep it functioning; dealing with interpersonal issues and conflict; and creating a culture of shared work, collaboration, accountability - all with agility and coordination.

On a deeper level, a team leader must be emotionally intelligent, self-aware, and able to manage a range of relationships and personalities. The new thinking on teams is that "teaming" qualities need to be built into an organization's fabric. They need to be integrated into everyday life and be "put in play" effortlessly. The assumption here is that much of the work that is done will involve some aspect of teamwork and the shift between teams and individuals will not be noticeable.