Mar 12 / Jackie Kennedy

8 Things to Consider When Developing Your Leaders

I recently spoke at the Knowledge Resources Annual OD Conference on what companies should think about when designing leadership interventions for their people. Here’s what I shared:

1. Short-term interventions do not lead to sustained behavioural change.

Why? While workshops or three-day intensive training programmes are great for connecting and certainly serve to inspire. Sadly, no matter our intention and initial motivation, within two weeks most of what we have learnt has been forgotten and almost nothing has changed.
How to: A big part of leadership development is actually about soft skill development. Soft skills cannot be developed overnight. Like any behaviour they require repetition, time and commitment. Your interventions or partner programme should be designed and built with sustained, meaningful change in mind.

2. Include everybody in your development programmes.

Why? It’s no longer enough to just coach the top-tier execs, and focus on a thin band of people within your organisation. The world of work has been changing - flatter structures, matrix teams and people leading from all positions despite tenure or title is not only expected but necessary. And now with the AI revolution, we need all people to think critically and take the lead.

How to: If you want to create a future-fit company, every person – from CEO to intern – must learn how to lead themselves better and manage their well-being. This requires everyone to learn critical thinking and soft skills. Your people will become your competitive advantage and investing in them is investing in the future success of your business. It also means sometimes you will be leading and sometimes you will be following - you not only need to be comfortable with both but you need to be able to do both.

3. Agency and autonomy for employees should be a high priority.

Why? Cultivating agency and giving employees autonomy will allow them to feel more empowered to take the lead, make decisions, and voice opinions. The alignment of employee efforts with organisational goals creates a cohesive and focused workforce, contributing to long-term success and sustainability.

How to: To instil agency within your workforce, develop the capacity within your people to learn how to create healthy habits in all areas of their lives. Clearly communicate expectations and roles and responsibilities, granting autonomy for decision-making within roles. And then create a culture of continuous learning and personal development (going back to point 1 about why short term interventions don’t work).

4. Learning requires dedicated time right now, not sometime in the future.

Why? Learning is integral to personal and professional growth, and its significance becomes evident when dedicated time is allocated for it. While immediate tasks may seem pressing, it's crucial to recognise the balance between short-term demands and the long-term benefits of learning. Without carving out time for learning, the potential for sustained growth and development is compromised.

How to: Give everyone 1 hour a week that is dedicated to learning. Don’t schedule meetings during that time. If your company says that it values learning, then value it. Create a culture where learning time is precious and won’t be interrupted.

5. An integrated work/life balance impacts culture and the bottom line.

Why? It’s impossible for us to separate our lives between home and work. When we acknowledge and act on this interconnectedness, it increases job satisfaction, reduces burnout, and improves overall productivity. This is the sort of culture that attracts and retains top talent and is vital for innovation, collaboration, and employee resilience - all important elements for sustaining a healthy bottom line!

How to: Engaging in regular check-ins can help you to understand challenges your people are facing and what they may need right now. Put in and uphold specific policies that support work/life balance. Measure and monitor organisational health, such as employee satisfaction and retention rates, ensuring the effectiveness of implemented strategies.

6. Understand how individual values and beliefs impact the system.

Why? Everyone has a set of values and beliefs that shape them, their lens and their leadership style. This often becomes the culture of the organisation and affects how performance is driven, which ultimately impacts the bottom line. The individual system can influence the organisational system and vice versa - the organisational system can impact the individual.

How to: The vision, mission and purpose drive the high-level business goals while the values and beliefs of the leaders (which sit within the mentals models) shape the system and how these goals are achieved. The Level of Perspectives Model below (Kim, 1996) is a useful tool or lens through which to assess your organisation and to determine what parts of the system you may need to shift. Leaders need to truly understand their beliefs and values and how these influence the system. This is at the heart of self-awareness.

7. Teams work better together after individuals gain self-awareness.

Why? Self-awareness is key to communication. The way we communicate can either empower and inspire or break people down. Which means communication is the life blood of an organisation. It ensures smooth operations, healthy team dynamics and making people feel heard and seen. 

How to: Knowing oneself precedes knowing each other, having a shared language and learning how to work optimally together. Your intervention should start here as leading yourself is key to leading others.

8. Leaders have to back the intervention.

Why? Leaders of an organisation shape the organisation and set the tone. And yet many leaders are not participating or getting on board for development programmes. But there is no one better to implement and lead an intervention than the leader themself. By having a top down bottom up approach--- you create consistency, alignment, trust and accountability - the recipe for success.

How to:
Partner or build an intervention that creates a solid foundation for leading that can shape and create a consistent way of being across the organisation. Leaders have to participate. They need to lead by example.
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At LeadMe Academy we focus on developing self awareness, critical thinking, emotional intelligence and effective communication skills for leaders at every level. Our LeadMe Leadership Development Programme is an immersive online learning and coaching platform that challenges, motivates and changes behaviour over time. 

If you would like to learn how we can assist your organisation with creating a common language and way of being across all levels of leadership - please reach out to me on

Onward and upward,
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