The Point: If you are attempting to build leadership in your organization, you know just how difficult that can be. Who to select, what to instruct, and how to verify lessons learned/implemented are amongst the leading-edge decision points to be made for a successful leadership development program. But rather than work from the bottom of the org chart up, what if we went from the top down? In this blog post we’ll examine the leadership challenge regarding deconstruction, or how you can deconstruct top performers within the organization to identify key success characteristics to be replicated… Enjoy!
Building good leaders is hard, let alone great leaders. This was the central theme of a recent client visit where our task at hand was to develop a leadership development program. What exactly makes a good leader in this organization/division/department/role? If you’ve ever struggled with identifying that those characteristics look like, then welcome to the club. Most Human Resource Managers that lead leadership development initiatives will tell you that there are typically a common core set of characteristics/behaviors that those who are successful exhibit.
So if we know what success looks like, why is it so difficult to pinpoint the individual leader who achieve success characteristics/behaviors? One potential way is to receive input from the stakeholders themselves, rather than the individual leader. While the successful leader achieves great results, they typically can’t explain/replicate their exact methodology/reasons for. This is similar to promoting the super star associate to manager/leader level and seeing their performance not translate in their new role. Why the failure? The answer is simple… They either didn’t have the same passion/skills/knowledge to do so.
Deconstruction Tip Tools
So here is a list of 5 of my favorite deconstruction tips or tools for leaders to look for in order to replicate their success:
Tip #5 – The first tip I’ll share is to conduct a behavioral assessment. Behavioral assessments are good tools that “snapshot” who you are and what you’re comprised of (One of my favorites is from Hogan Assessments). Across a constant/similar characteristic categorization you then have a baseline measuring starting point.
Tip #4 – Conduct an employee/stakeholder survey of the leader with targeted questions pointed at key characteristics (identified in their behavioral assessment) for further input on not only what is important, but the how of execution for those important characteristics.
Tip #3 – Filter characteristics that are most important to the leadership development initiative at hand by comparing supporting position level with organizational mission/vision/values. In other words, if you have a characteristic that does not support/goes against what your organization stands for, you’re better off leaving it out.
Tip #2 – Align with a top tier leadership development methodology. There are a lot of schools of thought regarding what a leader should consist of and how they should learn therein. Top programs that come to mind are any Top 20 MBA program’s Executive Development sessions. While not nearly as long (most are 1-2 days versus 2-years of MBA school), these sessions provide laser focus on important leadership development topics. Presented by faculty that are considered subject matter experts (as well as typically consultants for example organizations), there can be a great transference of leadership knowledge.
Tip #1 – Implement your program and measure success much more frequently than an annual survey. Conduct weekly 1:1 (one to one) meetings, poll stakeholders for feedback, and observe for results.
In this post we’ve examined the leadership challenge of deconstruction and provided five tips. While most leadership moments are worked from blank whiteboard to full whiteboard with initiative details/processes spelled out, sometimes a better approach may be to just start at the top and work your way down by deconstructing successful leaders.