There is a link between past and present ideas on developing leadership. That link has not changed over time, and it reveals that to lead effectively, leaders need to become experts in human development.
The Need for Self-Development
As people struggle with the challenges of being leaders in today’s society, what they often miss is the need for self-development. There is an existential crisis where leaders are not taking the responsibility upon themselves to become better leaders. Sometimes being self-aware is mistaken as a quality of a high-level leader, but self-awareness cannot replace self-development. Leaders must intentionally take measures to evolve themselves as human beings to become better leaders.
Often leaders confuse the field of management with leadership. When a leader is ‘doing versus being’ or ‘abdicating versus delegating’, the question arises as to whether they are ultimately leading or simply managing. It is important for leaders to hone their skills and capabilities, but this should not be seen as a substitute for working on themselves. These are very different actions and sadly what is lacking in corporate Australia and globally, is the self-development of our leaders.
Foundations of Leadership
Self-leadership and self-development are the foundations of the capacity to lead. Leadership requires emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence, social intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. These are all elements that leaders should constantly be working on to expand their understanding of themselves, which leads to a better understanding of others. This is the reason leadership development is so important.
Leaders typically wait until a problem manifests before they decide to seek help. The first signs of trouble leaders may recognise are breakdowns in communication and conflicts that are not being resolved. Leaders then begin to realise that at some level they are blind to some of the elements of their interactions with others. Thus, begins their quest for self-development and improved emotional intelligence.
Emotional and Cognitive Intelligence
Emotional intelligence can be broken down into four key aspects, including self-awareness, self-management, interpersonal intelligence, and self-motivation. To begin, it is a matter of being able to understand one’s self and develop a sense of self-awareness. When leaders move into this state of self-awareness, they can stop reacting and start responding which is part of self-management. Interpersonal intelligence is about communicating with people and understanding the quality of the relationships that underpin communication. Once leaders learn to respond instead of react, they can begin to communicate more effectively. The final aspect is self-motivation, where leaders learn to have influence over their environment. This motivation comes from within and is not about external needs.
Once the emotional intelligence has been developed, the second phase is to develop cognitive intelligence. This relates to perspectives and being able to view experiences from the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth person. When leaders understand perspectives, they can objectively see their communications from another person’s point of view. This allows them to identify what works and what doesn’t. Taking a fifth person perspective gives leaders the ability to see all four perspectives simultaneously, revealing blind spots and leverage points. Fifth person perspective is unattached and non-resistant, which allows leaders to again, respond instead of react.
When leaders have developed the emotional and cognitive intelligence that allows them to truly respond, leadership changes dramatically. By responding, leaders are able to give people what they need. This may not always be what people want, but an effective leader does not have any attachment to being seen in a certain way.
Coaching for Leadership Development
Leaders need to take the time to introspectively look at themselves. This is where coaching with The Coaching Room can make a difference.
Over time, leaders need to look at themselves and identify their blind spots. To do this, they have to come into coaching. The point of developmental coaching is to facilitate the process of challenging leaders to find their blind spots. We help leaders to identify what changes will have the most impact toward accelerating their development.
Self-development is the key to leadership development. Leaders are only as good as the people they lead, so their development and the development of their people is critical to their overall effectiveness. What are you doing to invest in your own development as a leader? Remember, leadership is not about skills and capacities, it is about you, first and foremost as a human being.