A friend sent me a cartoon recently.....
I like the idea that developing the next generation of leaders falls as much to the current generation as it does the Learning and Development team. Without a culture where emerging leadership is truly valued and nurtured, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the leadership development programme is, without the foundation of a strong leadership culture firmly in place, it’s not going to have the desired effect.
This thought was very much top of mind recently when we were approached by a senior leader we’ve worked with over the years. She had taken on the task of building a week-long development programme for a group of 40 emerging finance leaders, plucked from offices around the world.
From a communication perspective, the finance leader probably has to manage one of the toughest transitions from management to leadership. In the early career stages, most of the job is about analysis, detail and reporting – it’s really all about the numbers. For those with potential however, the communication task quickly shifts. It becomes much more about providing judgment on what the numbers really mean, and subsequently exerting influence to make the right things happen. This requires a very different set of communication skills, and ones the ‘advanced presentation skills’ course struggles to provide.
So back to our 40 emerging leaders. We ran a half-day session that talked about how to truly connect with what an audience cares about. We explored how to talk about intangibles such as vision and values without sounding like a press release. We looked at how to be open about a topic or issue and explain a personal point of view. And we examined ways to make messaging both clear and compelling.
Not only do these skills make communication more relevant, they also make it more interesting. They help emerging leaders to be more confident, productive and engaging while reducing, what for many, can be one of the most stressful parts of the job.
As one of the senior sponsors put it so eloquently"‘if I’d had some of this coaching early in my career, perhaps I’d have more hair". It was so successful that we have been asked to run this programme annually and to develop a follow up initiative.