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What to be ready for, when you ask Leaders to step-up their game

We are often asked 'what makes organisational leadership development initiatives successful?'

In our experience, features like effective stakeholder engagement and communication, establishing clear benchmarks for evaluation, and how to achieve implementation efficiencies are obvious mentions. What comes as a bit of a surprise is when we highlight the need to be ready for success.

By nature, leadership development initiatives are driven by the positive intent that they are good for the employee, for those they work with, and the organisation.

As an example, with executive coaching programmes, a significant investment is made to support and encourage leaders to step into their leadership roles and fulfil their potential. They work with an external coach, who helps challenge their thinking and broaden their perspective – allowing new ideas and motivation to emerge. Great right?

How to capitalise on success

The success of these initiatives is often viewed in terms of the programme participant ‘making some form of change.’ However, as these leaders begin to exert more autonomy and begin to voice their ideas to influence change, the system they operate in is challenged to be respond. Responsiveness in this context often means challenging or changing the status quo, which in a large organisation is easier said than done.

Unfortunately, if the organisation remains working to existing norms, there will inevitably be a misalignment of new behaviours with old practices and processes. The tension that arises comes from:

  • the intensity of the individual’s persistence to lead change and

  • the degree of push back they encounter within the system.

If this dynamic is not understood or anticipated, the most serious unintended consequence is the loss of the organisation’s most talented – who have the confidence and courage to seek greener pastures. Or worse, a leader who gives up and becomes disengaged, feeling ‘what’s the point…’

To circumvent this, it is important to consider the whole system. Below are three practical steps you can take. If you would like to read more on how to maximise your organisational coaching programmes, you might like to read 'Three Tips on How to Maximise the Value of Organisational Coaching Programmes'

  • Ensure the managers of those being coached are included in the process

  • Create meaningful feedback loops

  • Develop a process for improving policies and processes

Author: Dayna Caceres

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