Magazine article Talent Development

Become an Agenda Mover: You've Come Up with a Great Idea; Now What?

Magazine article Talent Development

Become an Agenda Mover: You've Come Up with a Great Idea; Now What?

Article excerpt

During the past two decades, leadership training has gained importance in organizational life. According to a 2016 Association for Talent Development report, Experiential Learning for Leaders, "In a volatile business environment where rapid change is the norm, organizations struggle to provide current and relevant leadership development. But the inability to prepare effective leaders puts companies at significant risk for poor financial performance, strategic execution, competitive capability, and other vital elements necessary for businesses to survive." So the question that must be asked by talent development professionals is, "How does any individual leadership training affect the business?"

In my years as an academic, having trained hundreds of leaders and having led the implementation of leadership programs in many organizations, I've learned one fundamental lesson: If the training doesn't resonate with the reality of the business, then it doesn't matter what HR or the talent development team thinks.

In a world where there is pressure to lead for change and innovation, networks have replaced hierarchies, solution sales have overcome product sales, and turf and global teams are omnipresent, knowing how to move an agenda through the maze of organizational life is the ultimate test of leadership. Therefore, in a competitive organizational world that demands perpetual innovation and change, leaders at all levels of the organization must master the skills of the agenda mover.

When training leaders as agenda movers, the focus should be on four critical competencies: anticipate the agendas of others, mobilize their campaign, negotiate support, and sustain their campaign.

Anticipate the agendas of others

No matter how good an idea, if a leader wants to move innovation or change, the first thing the leader has to do is homework. That means moving the focus from his own "good idea" to the agendas of others.

Agenda movers understand that to move an agenda, they have to identify who will be on their side and who will not be. It may be helpful at this point to analyze the stakeholders and determine where the power lies-for example, knowing who the gatekeepers are, or those individuals with authority only in a certain department.

Anticipating the agendas of others is only the first step. Talent development professionals can help leaders who wish to become agenda movers anticipate the "yes, but" games others will play-that is, to figure out the core arguments of resistance that others may use.

Agenda movers map out the terrain of resistance by figuring out where other people are coming from and sensing how well they may receive a particular idea. For instance, a leader with a traditionalist agenda archetype is likely to reject an idea that is completely novel, and a revolutionary will likely be dissatisfied with any initiative that doesn't challenge the status quo.

Mobilize their campaign

The next challenge agenda movers face is mobilization. That is, they need to adopt a coalition mindset. To move an agenda, they need a core group of individuals who will rally around their ideas with some sense of purpose, cohesion, and intent.

This does not come about as a result of charisma or the simple brilliance of an idea. Rather, to mobilize others, agenda movers must methodically focus their message, establish their credibility, and understand the nature of the support they really need. …

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