Everyone Looks Up

Jessica Garcia Dudek is a partner at Oxygen Learning, which develops customized training programs that create paradigm shifts for clients in a variety of industries. Oxygen Learning will be hosting Resourceful HR’s NW Best Practices Roundtable in 2012 Q3 where guests will share their knowledge about leadership development. Learn more.

Hopefully you have had the opportunity to work with an exceptional leader – an individual who is able to inspire, motivate, mobilize a team, get things done and achieve results, all while making each and every person on the team feel valued and excited about the project. Nothing feels better than to be a part of a team of individuals with synergistic skill sets and a similar work ethic as it not only makes the experience extremely satisfying, it takes the project and its results to another level.

While we all know the benefits this brings to an organization’s bottom-line, we probably have all experienced at one point in our careers the opposite – the leaders who’ve managed to create a completely opposing environment, leaving the team deflated, uninspired and not feeling valued. This doesn’t mean that the work didn’t get done. It just wasn’t a positive experience that generated even greater results down the road. Essentially, it became a missed opportunity – leaving employees less engaged and business goals out of reach.

We have found that companies who make leadership development an HR initiative, experience greater employee productivity, retention and satisfaction. And while there are a million different leadership methodologies and books about what makes an effective leader it’s important to start the process by asking some fundamental, strategic questions. It is ideal to ask these questions at the beginning of building your company but it is equally valuable to ask these questions if you have been in business for many years. In order to achieve the business results and competitive edge you are seeking, consider asking the following:

  • What are the leadership skills you would like your leaders to exude in order to achieve your business goals?
  • Does your leadership team exude the characteristics you would like your employees to possess? Are they leading by example?
  • What leadership skills are needed in order to further your company’s brand and culture so that clients and new job candidates are attracted to what you have to offer?
  • Are you hiring individuals that have a proven track record of exhibiting the leadership skills, characteristics and results you need to be competitive in the marketplace?
  • If you choose to roll out a leadership development program, what is your goal? What challenges are you facing that you think the program will address?
  • Are you planning to make the long-term commitment needed to make leadership development effective? It is not something that happens overnight and it needs to become a part of your culture and a cornerstone initiative. If the answer is yes, I can guarantee it will be a success that you and the business will benefit from when it comes to attracting new customers and cutting edge talent.

Answering these questions and defining the results you are seeking is key to launching a leadership program, whether you use internal resources or decide to partner with an outside company. If you decide to enlist the expertise of an outside resource, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Make sure the company you are partnering with asks the questions above.
  • Make sure they ask a lot of questions to understand your business goals, objectives and culture.
  • Make sure they are focused on the outcome. They should be vigilant about understanding how you will measure success at the end of the engagement.
  • Avoid a one-size fits all approach, make sure they are flexible and can provide customized options that fit your stage of growth and your culture.
  • Check references to ensure you will receive the results you are seeking.

Leadership development can have a huge impact on the success of your company. People look up. A leader’s ability to role model the behaviors they want to see, and communicate their company’s strategic vision in a clear and compelling way, will keep their team motivated and knowledgeable about how their day-to-day performance influences the bottom-line. We’d like to hear from you! Share your stories of successful leadership by sharing a comment on our blog.

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