Almost 10 years ago, I had the privilege to co-author The Secret with Ken Blanchard, a book about Chick-fil-A’s point of view on leadership. It was a lot of fun doing the book with Ken and even more fun talking to groups all over the world about leadership. What I didn’t expect was the question that I received over and over again… “We’ve read The Secret, what’s next?”
In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure what people wanted to know. Were they asking about my next book? Did they want to know my career plans or what time my flight was going to leave? Most often, it was none of the above. Leaders around the world appreciated the lessons we tried to convey in the book, but they had an intuitive sense, informed by their experience, that the book was not the end of the conversation. They were right.
What organizations desperately need is not just a point-of-view on leadership, they need a leadership culture. I define a leadership culture as a place in which leaders are routinely and systematically produced. In a leadership culture, it is not unusual when there is a surplus of qualified leadership candidates for an open position.
Here are five keys to creating a leadership culture.
Define it – Does your organization have an agreed upon definition of leadership? If not, that’s the starting point.
Train it – Having a definition is critical but insufficient alone. Can your leaders deliver on your definition? Some can, I’m sure, but training is probably required – at least for emerging leaders. Leadership skills are not innate.
Practice it – Do you give emerging leaders the opportunity to lead? Most of what leaders learn about leadership they learn from leading. Give them the chance to practice by actually letting them lead.
Measure it – This can take many forms – Performance reviews; 360 feedback; “Readiness for Next Opportunity.” Then there’s always the “9 Box” popularized by G.E. which evaluates leaders on two dimensions – performance and alignment with organizational values. You can even measure participation in leadership training.
Model it – If your existing leaders are not showing people what great leadership looks like in your organization; if they aren’t working diligently to demonstrate the attributes outlined in your definition of leadership, none of the previous ideas will have much impact.
How deep is your leadership bench?