A Corporate Cultivator's Guide to Growing Leaders: The Current Skills Shortage and the Government's Acknowledgment of the Link between Management Capability and Economic Performance Is Focusing More Attention on the Need to Grow Leadership Skills and Develop Management Talent. How Can New Zealand Managers Improve Their Own Skills and Mentor Others to Develop Theirs?

Article excerpt

In most western economies business leaders take their place alongside sports heroes and media personalities as models of success that a majority of the populace admires and attempts to emulate. But here in New Zealand a succession of conferences, surveys and articles has confirmed a dearth of business leadership role models. It seems we are in desperate need of a new generation of business leaders.

The Government has allocated funds through the Economic Development Ministry to investigate management capability, and the Leadership Development Centre was established a year ago by public service chief executives to develop leadership capability across the public sector. But what can managers at the coal face do to address this deficit?

Great leaders

To grow future leaders, we need to understand their attributes. Great leaders:

* Have passion--they are the torch carriers for their company or their idea.

* Provide model behaviour--leadership by example.

* Gain commitments to common goals--they are consensus builders.

* Motivate people and teams--they are consistently 'up' and do not just drive people in order to achieve company objectives, but take a real personal interest in those people they work with.

* Recognise favourable timing for their actions--eg when initiating major change they judge when it is best to slow down and let staff better assimilate the change.

* Recognise the strength of their opponents--ie when to have head-to-head com petition, when to take time to differentiate their products or services or when to attack as weaknesses are uncovered.

* Have personal characteristics of honesty, competence, trustworthiness, influence and inspiration.

In summary they are knowledgeable, lead by example and coach others--or in the words of John Maxwell "A leader is one who Knows, Goes, and Shows the way."

Growing future leaders depends on two key factors: The candidates must have the internal motivation to grow their own careers; and those in leadership positions must take responsibility for growing future managers and leaders.

The foundation for aspiring leaders is the leadership quadrant of personality, competencies, leadership style and leadership practices. Beyond that there are many things managers can do to grow their leadership careers.

Tips for leadership growth

Exceed expectations:

* Take on difficult work assignments and become a willing volunteer for new projects.

* Offer to lead group discussions in the workplace. Effective and persuasive communication is the key attribute of effective and great leaders.

* Take the lead role in developing networks with your peers in the business community. This network will become a powerful asset for most of your working life.

* Take a lead role in your industry or profession.

* Offer to research opportunities, issues or problems. This is another way to demonstrate that you are a willing volunteer and can help you to hone your report writing and verbal communication skills.

* Take every opportunity to speak in front of groups. (Make sure you have something worthwhile to say and you have practised presenting the information.)

* Practise leadership through excellence--everything you do should reflect your desire to become an outstanding leader.

* Give credit to others and don't try to steal the glory. Great leaders build great teams.

* Have a personal code of ethics that dictates your behaviour.

Do:

* Take the lead.

* Learn to read situations.

* Be persistent. Results will not necessarily be immediate. When you are leading change you are changing the culture and the "way things were always done." Re member that if you provide short-term wins they will give validity to your overall change initiatives.

* Be willing to stand alone. …