Why leadership development is an essential business spend

The need for a leadership team 

Speak to any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you what excites them about building their business: opportunity, ideas, action, achievement, opportunity – and so the cycle continues…

With their eye on the future and their insurmountable energy to achieve, entrepreneurs can be hugely inspirational to work with and work for! However, as success lands and the business grows, it becomes harder and harder for an entrepreneur to be the solo driver. Building a leadership team is an inevitable process an entrepreneur will go through and one that is often not given sufficient consideration.

Too often leadership teams are built reactively without the benefit of mapping out the future perfect team. Individuals are brought to the table as needs arise and before long the “leadership team” is born. In an ideal world the team members would have the skills, experience and personalities that complement each other, utilise strengths and accommodate each other’s weaknesses whilst also living and breathing the values of the organisation. They would be critical advisors and trusted decision makers standing side by side with the entrepreneur.

In the real world this utopia is a rare feat!

How leadership recruitment goes wrong 


Too often the entrepreneur employs people fairly similar to himself, with similar backgrounds maybe or similar personality styles. Unfortunately, this homogeneity bares a number of potential areas for concern, including limited idea generation and disregard for different personality styles and qualities. For example, if the majority of the leadership team are extroverted big picture thinkers, the more detail orientated, and introverted members of the team are unlikely to be heard and are often not given the same time or even respect. Detail focused individuals are of course critical from a risk management and quality assurance perspective (to name just two!) and ensure ideas and opportunities are safe and realistic. If outnumbered however, they can often be overlooked, with potentially disastrous consequences to the business.

Another regular issue is that the team is recruited and are each so different that they don’t see eye to eye, adopt very different leadership styles, communicate poorly with one another and end up managing their divisions in silos.

Both examples (and there are many more) demonstrate weak leadership and with weak leadership comes limited ability to set robust business strategy, make quality decisions, resolve problems, retain and attract the right talent and ultimately create a productive and enjoyable culture in which to work.

How to develop your leadership team

As organisations globally are recognising the importance of effective and cohesive leadership, it is no surprise that leadership development is at the top of many organisation’s agenda. The good news is that there are number of interventions available that can help malfunctioning leadership teams develop their technical and behavioural capabilities and become robust, high performing units!

But beware! If you’re looking for external support it can be tough to find the right provider. There are hundreds of different practitioners out there delivering a multitude of leadership programmes. Its important you find the right one for your business. Here are some top tips for making your decision!

  1. Tailored: any leadership programme needs to be tailored to your business, your current challenges, needs and your growth plans. An effective practitioner will take time to understand your needs and draw up a programme that directly addresses your needs
  2. Strategic: the programme needs to be directed by your business strategy. If you’re looking to break into new markets or develop new products your team will need the skills to ensure the strategy is achievable. Ensure the practitioner spends time with you or your team to understand the objectives so they can be built into the programme
  3. Values driven: if you’re looking for behavioural change it is important you understand how and what behaviours you want to see you in your team. If you haven’t already, take time to identify your values and create a behavioural matrix from which to base the development. The practitioner should be able to help you do this if you haven’t already!
  4. Measured: being able to map change is important to demonstrate return on investment and measure programme success. Ensure the practitioner utilises tools that can be used at different points in the process.
  5. Blended: leadership development should not be delivered in a training environment! No leader is developed through sitting in a lecture theatre learning theory. Development happens over time and should integrate theory and experiential learning through activities such as workshops, stretch projects, coaching and action learning. It has to be relevant and real! It also has to have equal focus on individual reflection and development and team communication and interaction.
  6. Facilitative: a great practitioner ensures the team has the skills to become self-sufficient, to keep momentum even after the programme comes to an end. Development is an ongoing process and the development programme should be just the start of an ongoing process.

Most importantly the practitioner needs to be collaborative and work alongside you to ensure any intervention meets your needs throughout the process! To learn more about how we run our leadership development solutions, click here.

Download our free white paper to learn how to improve your leadership team