Developing Leadership 30 Minutes at a Time

Every year there are new themes emerging in learning and development.

Shortly after the 2008/9 crisis hit, everyone wanted ‘Finance for Non-Financial Managers’ type courses. Strategic Thinking also became a big topic there for a while.

You couldn’t walk 15 feet through an office at that time without hearing someone using the word ‘Strategic’. So many companies clearly felt it was a good idea if some of their people actually knew what it meant. Although it’s clear that not everyone got the invite to that particular course.

One topic that has stayed on the ‘Needs’ list for the last number of years is Leadership Development. However, developing leaders is tricky. It can be expensive, too. Go and get a quote from Insead and you will see what I mean. Plus it’s hard to get the future leadership into the classroom, they often have short-term concerns that outweigh long-term requirements.

There are ways to start the process more cheaply and in a way that the company can manage easily, but they require commitment.

Once a week a senior, experienced leader in the organization gives up 30 minutes of their time. They are there to facilitate a discussion with the company’s high potentials. They throw a phrase out to the group like ‘ Leadership should be about relationship building, what do you think that means?’

The next week it’s the turn of one of the future leaders to come up with their own discussion point.

30 minutes a week. That’s all it takes, but it has to be something that is bought into at the top. They need to understand that part of their role is not just to lead but to coach and guide.

Call them what you will, ‘Breakfast and Learn’, ‘Toolbox Talks’, but they can make difference in helping your high potentials understand the differences between management and leadership 30 minutes at a time.

‘You manage things; you lead people’.

—Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

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