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The Value of Leadership Development

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, effective leadership is more important than ever. Leaders are responsible for setting the direction of their organizations, inspiring and motivating their teams and driving growth and innovation. As such, it is crucial for businesses to invest in leadership development to ensure that their leaders have the skills and abilities they need to succeed.

An essential factor in leadership is to think about how you respond and support your team based on your situation, like with Cynefin by Dave Snowden. Team capability can be considered in terms of the team's ability to collaborate in a way that matches the needs of their given market, as described by Geoffrey A. Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm. A team that has much experience working in a given market and knows how to collaborate well, has high team capability. While even if a group of highly trained experts are working in a market they know well, if their ability to collaborate is low, then their team capability is lacking.

The graphic depicts how a leader and a team evolve and adjust their behaviour based on these two axes, Team Capability and Situational Clarity. It is important to note that this is a model like any other, which simplifies something that is hugely complex and should be treated as a way of thinking about things rather than a law.

As mentioned above, it is the team's ability to collaborate and navigate the needs of their market/situation. Low Team Capability, therefore, doesn't refer to the qualifications or experience of the individuals on the team but to the team as a whole entity. A new team would lack the ability to Own a Common Vision, Give each other Effective Feedback, Have an agreed Decision-making Paradigm and would not feel Safe to Disagree with one another. They may also lack understanding or awareness of the nature of their situation, in other words, if they should bias towards an effective or efficient approach given the market conditions.

This means how easily Cause and Effect can be observed. Imagine the X-Axis is Cynefin by Dave Snowden stretched out with the clear domain on the left, then complicated, then complex and finally chaotic. When things are obvious to the point of automation, you can quickly graduate from a directive stance to a delegating stance as a leader, as a team can quickly learn how to operate in that space. In contrast, a highly volatile and unclear situation might require more nuance with consideration for urgency. Delegation is faster than Ordering, and in a chaotic situation that is highly time-dependent, you are better off delegating than ordering if your team's ability to function is above basic. Both extremes are not so useful from a team development journey perspective. So let's focus on the optimal learning zone.

Like the Flow diagram by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, there is a zone where the perfect balance of capability and clarity can generate learning. Too clear, and the team learns nothing new. While too unclear, the team find themselves out of their depth and risk disaster. The leader's role is to shift their behaviour to match the situation and support the team's learning journey. A good leader should be capable of creating a Safe Space to Disagree, applying effective Decision-making Paradigms, Give Effective Feedback and creating a Vision and Purpose, as well as understanding the Market/Situation and its demands. The Leader shouldn't only have these skills but also be able to teach the team how to do this for themselves.

As the team grows in their understanding and skill, the leader can then shift from one type of leader to another. However, they should communicate clearly to the team when and how they are moving from one mode to another. The leader can be both a Commander and a Visionary on the same day, so explaining why the leader is assuming a given role is essential to ensure that the team members can experience them as being consistent. If they think their leader is unpredictable, this will cause them to mistrust them and erode the fundamental need for trust that cultivates Belonging, a foundation that is required for all the rest of the stances to function.

Leaders must invest in their capacity to shift stances, learn these essential collaboration techniques and learn how to teach them. One level builds on the next. Being capable in one or two of these means that their leadership won't be suited for many other situations they find themselves in.

In addition, today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before. Leaders must be able to effectively manage teams made up of individuals from different backgrounds with different perspectives. Investing in a leadership development program can help leaders develop the cultural competence they need to build inclusive teams so that they can harness the value inherent in that diversity.

In conclusion, leadership is a craft that requires knowledge, understanding and practice to master and is essential for the long-term success of any organization.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, effective leaders are more important than ever. Companies like Mind Forge offer valuable programs that can help leaders grow and thrive in their roles. By investing in leadership development, businesses can improve employee engagement, reduce turnover and drive growth and innovation.

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