Type the words ‘leadership development programs’ in a search engine and, unsurprisingly, you’ll be faced with over 475 million results. You could be forgiven for thinking there are more leadership programs than leaders, writes Greg Smith, FAMI CPM.
If you’re an experienced leader you may have been assessed, evaluated and reviewed within an inch of your life and had your capability critically bench marked against your organisational, industry and professional peers. You’ve probably undertaken a number of personality questionnaires and cognitive ability tests, completed numerous 360 degree surveys and been grilled on your behavioral and attribute based competencies along with motivational factors. You have had to be highly articulate about your various work-related achievements with powerful examples at your fingertips. You may have been to be coached or mentored along your leadership journey or perhaps have made this an ongoing feature of your development.
Effective leaders are career coaching competent
Despite this, your competence as a career coach rarely gets a look in. We know that this is a key activity of highly effective leaders and a critical component of facilitating the growth of individual and organisational capability for the current and future needs of the firm. It is much more than a leadership competency, it should be a way of leadership practice that speaks directly to, and is embedded with, employee engagement and organisational culture.
Leadership skill set and technological change
Incorporating career coaching as a key competency of your leadership skill set has never been more important with the quantum of technological change we see today. This growing trend will continue to dramatically and permanently transform and reshape our employment landscape. The impacts of technology changes in marketing are highlighted in Green Hat’s 2019 research report, ‘The B2B Jungle’. Similarly to others, leaders of marketers will need to help their employees navigate their changing workplaces.
It’s an opportunity to build trust
It is the responsibility of effective leaders to be deliberate and take a proactive interest in career coaching their employees as an integral component of their leadership skillset. Importantly, this skill must not be delegated to others. Though there may be times where gaining an external perspective or career assistance is needed or beneficial, it just makes sense for leaders to assume this role wherever appropriate rather than leave this critically important activity to other. It’s an exceptional opportunity to build trust, foster collaboration and develop a deep and enduring connection with their staff to ensure engagement, performance and tenure. Leaders who fail to develop this capability risk being left behind.
Just as important, competitors may also only be too willing to step in fill any development voids! As Greg Smith points out in his book, Career Conversations – how to get the best from your talent pool (2019, Wiley), ‘The best way to counter such competitor attacks is by positively investing in your relationships with employees, taking an active, dynamic and ongoing interest in their career development, beginning with one-to-one career conversations’ and ‘The implications of employee–organisational relationships on individual career development and the co-dependencies at play cannot be understated’.
Effective leadership behaviours
It’s often said that great leaders are comfortable in their own skin. Research supports that self-awareness along with a healthy dose of humility bodes well for effective leadership behaviours. One of the amazing by-products of helping others with their career is the mutually beneficial self-insight that accrues for both the coach and the employees.
The benefits of leaders being great career coaches have been known by human resources and organisational development professionals for some time but what’s astonishing is that it’s taken a lifetime for many others in business to recognise it.
The wait is over! Pick up a copy of Greg’s book, Career Conversations – how to get the best from your talent pool published by Wiley. This book will provide you with step by step instructions along with case studies of how to have effective career conservations and incorporate this into your leadership routine.
Also check out deliberatepractice’s, interactive and practical workshops which are based on Greg’s book Career Conversations, that provide experiential learning for experienced leaders and leaders in waiting on how to proactively facilitate employee career development. For more information about deliberatepractice’s career services, coaching and workshops contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About Greg Smith, FAMI CPM
Greg has more than 20 years’ experience as a coach, mentor and consultant, and has led local and international commercial and consulting businesses in numerous senior executive roles. He is a book author, holds a Master of Career Development and is a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM). A career highlight was co-founding deliberatepractice, a highly successful and specialised HR consulting firm, which he headed up as managing partner and chief executive. Greg’s career focus today is helping aspiring, emerging and experienced leaders to develop their knowledge skills in guiding the careers of the people they lead and to build this capacity into their everyday leadership skill set.
His inspiration for his book ‘Career Conversations, how to get the best from you talent pool’was to share the secrets of holding effective career conversations that he has learned over a long and varied leadership career.