The Flip from Traditional Leadership Development to the New Normal

November 8, 2018
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Traditional leadership models typically refer to the top-down leadership approach. Most traditional programs focus leadership development opportunities on improving the skills of executives and managers. The key message they miss is that their entire organization also needs these skills to succeed. This explains why 77% of organizations say they are experiencing a leadership gap.

Traditional Leadership vs. New Leadership

If this is the case, then the logical answer to these issues is something has to change, this is the way people lead. Traditional leadership functions in a way that excludes a vast majority of people in the company, so to fight leadership gaps and inefficiencies you have to build leaders at every level of your organization.

This is what we call “New Leadership.” It basically means you’re training and developing your employees to be leaders in their own space and their own positions in real-time as they work as opposed to taking time off to devote to a training workshop or development seminar.

Even though 83% of organizations say that it is important to develop leaders at all levels, only 5% have implemented development on all levels. So organizations know they need to create leadership across their entire business, but fail to do so. As a result, 84% of organizations expect a shortfall of capable leadership in the next 5 years.

How can we, as an industry of change, fix this overarching issue? The answer is actually quite simple and has already been spelled out with these statistics: we need to build a continuously growing leadership culture that transcends your entire organization. Here’s how to do it:

Creating Tomorrow’s Leadership Culture Today

The term “millennials” seems to be in a lot of people’s mouths lately in both the perceived good and bad, but the importance of the generational group far outreaches most of the negative assumptions in the business sector. Here’s why: Millennials are unlike any traditional workforce we’ve ever seen before and they’re rapidly becoming the main chunk of employees and candidate pools businesses will hire from. By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce.

With all the retiring baby boomers and aging Gen X-ers, millennials are the future leaders of tomorrow, but why then aren’t organizations focusing on developing these employees as such today? 90% of organizations say they haven’t done anything differently to integrate millennial employees into their workforce while 63% of millennials feel their leadership skills are not being developed. Millennials don’t follow traditional standards for leadership because they want to be leaders in their own right:

  • Millennials recognize they need to improve their leadership skills — only 27% of millennial men and 21% of millennial women describe their leadership skills as strong.
  • Millennials are career-driven — 65% of emerging market millennials dream of being the leader or most senior executive at their current company.
  • Millennials are experience-focused — 52% of millennials said career progression was the main attraction in an employer, ahead of salary and compensation. 35% of millennials said learning and development programs was the main attraction in an employer.
  • Millennials know their worth as an employee — Only 18% of Millennials expect to stay with their current employer for the long-term which means they aren’t afraid to find a new job if they feel under appreciated or that their current organization doesn’t provide enough opportunity for personal or career growth.
  • Millennials want training and development opportunities — 22% of millennials rank training and development as the most important benefit an employer can offer, surpassing all other benefits like flexible work hours (19%), cash bonuses (14%) and healthcare (8%).

So what can we learn from these statistics?

Millennials feel their leadership skills are not being developed by employers and they acknowledge they could do with some leadership training. Second, they want career-driven opportunities like training and development. Third, leadership development is one of those career-driven opportunities they’re looking for! Consider the following points again for a moment:

  1. Millennials will make up 50% of the GLOBAL workforce by 2020.
  2. 82% of millennials don’t plan to stay with their current employer for the long term.
  3. Millennials are attracted to growth and development.

These indicate that leadership development opportunities are synonymous to your recruiting and retention efforts. If you want to keep millennial talent, you need to help them develop as leaders.

Why New Leadership Development Software is the Key

Millennials will expect their workplace to include digital tools to allow instant connection and team collaboration. While digital tools may satisfy millennial employees, they could cause issues with employees from older generations. One way your organization can easily remedy this is by reverse mentoring, where younger workers are paired with more experienced managers. This gives younger employees the opportunity to teach about the digital tools and methods they use. Leadership development software makes this process increasingly simple.

Choose a software with goal-setting capabilities to promote coaching and mentorship with real-time performance chat. This real-time function provides employees, managers and executives the opportunity to develop their leadership skills on-the-go during their daily work life. In other words, it’s an appealing alternative to leadership seminars or workshops that normally require a full day off or more. With Inspire Software’s One on One interface, manager and employee alike can solicit and give feedback, set weekly goals, discuss daily tasks and brainstorm solutions for roadblocks. Performance isn’t set and forget, and Inspire helps make productivity natural and effective.

Without goals, employees lack more than a sense of direction; they struggle to see their individual worth — lowering engagement and satisfaction. With a structured goal setting plan worked into your leadership development program, your leaders establish goals that can be traced from corporate values down to the individual and team tasks. No matter the structure of your organization make it easy to track and measure goals as a team.

It’s no secret that millennials prefer to manage their lives in the digital landscape. They are the first generation to grow up with smartphones, social media, and much other driving, digital forces displayed in today’s business environment. The key point to focus on here is that there is no quick fix or instant transition to make leadership training and development successful. Everyone learns and succeeds in different ways.

Baby boomers and millennials are completely different in their methods for finding growth and development and, as such, need an adaptable program that fits their unique styles. Integrating leadership development software to supplement your digital-focused employees and cross train your teams diversifies your leadership development stack. This bolsters your overall leadership culture because you’ll have stronger leaders from more diverse groups throughout your entire organization.

This article was originally published on the Inspire Software Blog by Ashley Ansari.

About Drea Zigarmi:     

Dr. Drea Zigarmi is a highly respected and experienced management consultant, best-selling author, powerful trainer, and motivational speaker.     

Drea is the coauthor of Leadership and the One Minute Manager, the third book in Ken Blanchard’s best-selling One Minute Manager Library, and various chapters in Leading at a Higher Level. In addition, he has coauthored The Leader Within, Achieve Leadership Genius, and The Team Leader’s Idea-A-Day Guide. Drea has coauthored numerous Ken Blanchard Companies products, including the widely used Situational Leadership II, DISC, and Optimal Motivation programs.
The Flip from Traditional Leadership Development to the New Normal
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