Leadership development: The new rule book


Companies across the globe are now realising the difference between managers and leaders, and also looking at different ways to groom leaders.  

Often organisations assume that a manager is also a leader. However, the two cannot be put on the same pedestal. A manager is the one who is more hands-on and responsible for the day-to-day operations. A leader, on the other hand, has a bigger goal to achieve— to inspire and motivate the workforce.

So how does an organisation differentiate between a manager and a leader? After all, the leaders of tomorrow will grow from among today’s managers.

There are certain traits that differentiate a manager and a leader. For instance, a manager might have a great idea, but it is the leader who will implement that idea. Similarly, a manager would always like to communicate to the employees but the leader will always persuade the followers. However, there is nothing sinister about being a manager. After all, the leader and the manager need to work together to drive the organisation.

Having said that it is also a fact that while managers are easy to find, leaders are difficult to groom.

These are some of the new global trends in leadership development

Redefining of leadership
The time has come to redefine the very premise of leadership. As commonly believed and practised, leadership is not driven by a position or a role within an organisational chart but by the amount of influence and performance, the leader has on the employers or co-workers. It has been observed that organisations with a flat structure experience greater leadership and collaborative skills across business units and geographical borders.

Collective leadership
Organisations often make the mistake of considering leadership development as an individual affair focussed on a single person or a specific role. There is something elite about this whole process.
However, a growing transition towards viewing leadership as a collective process has been noticed, which is spread throughout networks of people. This implies that companies need to shift their focus from grooming individual employees as future leaders to creating an environment and culture wherein leadership can develop and thrive.

Individual ownership
Leaders have a sense of ownership and they themselves work towards their individual growth. This belief is driving companies to encourage employees to take the initiative to develop their skills and capabilities. For instance, at PepsiCo Netherlands, employees self-manage their training, looking at their own strengths and training needs and this is part of the Company’s annual appraisal process. A leadership roadmap encourages all employees to identify two strengths and two opportunities every year, and determine the courses or self-study materials that can help them improve.

Technological advancement
Technology and digital tools have changed the way things work and move in all sectors. A software company from Africa has online career development tools, a mentor and mentee matching system and a particularly strong tracking system for planning and employee readiness, which can be an important indicator of successful completion of programme stages.

Voluntary leadership
Leadership programmes have usually focussed on CXOs or employees with high potential. But now, globally, companies are changing this practice. It is increasingly becoming a voluntary exercise, wherein any manager interested in the programme can participate. The tradition of individuals being nominated by their seniors or the HR department is being discouraged.
Companies have realised that employees with aspirations need to be nurtured.

(Based on the findings by the Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey)

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