If you build leadership in your organisation, leaders will come

If you’ve seen the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ you know that Ray Kinsella played by Kevin Costner builds a baseball field against all odds and some of the past greats of American baseball turn up to play. This could easily be a metaphor for how organisations should go about developing great leaders i.e. build a great organisation that has a leadership culture and leaders will come.

I’ve been asked by many organisations to ‘develop’ their leaders only to find out that the organisational culture would not support the kind of leadership that they want from their people. Leadership development in this environment doesn’t stick, it’s not sustainable!

I like gardening, but I’ve lost count of the number of plants I have killed off by not providing them with the soil, water, sunshine and nutrients they need to grow and thrive – how many leaders have been killed off by the organisation not providing the conditions they need to grow and thrive?

Here are some examples of what I mean –

• Promote that accountability is one of your values and then senior managers turn up late to meetings or never respond to emails.
• Executives tolerating unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour because the person is generating high sales revenues.
• Not holding people accountable for doing their jobs and there being no consequence for unacceptable performance.
• Not trusting people reporting to you and micromanaging them.
• Conducting engagement surveys and not addressing the issues at the source of low engagement results.
• Saying you care about your people but letting them work 10 hour days, then continuing to work at home and on weekends.

Our experience at Hewsons is that people at all levels in organisations want to be leaders and provide leadership, so what’s required is the right environment for them to step up. It will take vision and courage to create a leadership culture that has integrity, but unless you do, you will actually create a culture that discourages leadership.

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