Fact: Without intentional, strategic leadership development focused on the continued growth of your people, you’re apt to weaken the health of your culture and thus your organizational impact. Here’s the better alternative . . .
Named as one of the top 30 most influential Industrial-Organizational Psychologists alive today and a nationally recognized speaker and thought leader on developing whole leaders, Dr. Rob McKenna is Chair of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Seattle Pacific University. Over 250 graduates graduates are now working in leading companies and organizations across the U.S.
Rob is also the founder of WiLD Leaders, an organization serving over 7500 leaders with over 4.5 million employees and volunteers in their care. During our very honest conversation, Rob echoed the fact that leadership development is at center of Uplifting Growth and Development, one of the eight factors of BCWI FLOURISH Model, the trusted measure of a healthy-to-flourishing workplace culture.
“Sometimes we talk about leadership so much, we forget about the leaders,” Rob told me. “Whether it’s a church, ministry organization, or in business, leaders are caught in a fundamental tension between the need to deliver performance-based results and the need of the human heart to experience grace. The connection between what we produce and our heart–what we feel–is real. How do we reconcile and actually redeem this tension to be people who lead from the inside out? The answer, I believe, has to do with these five things:
1. Know What It Means To “Go First”
“Leadership development should be about the intentional preparation of a person for that moment when he or she will be going first and courageously step out and sometimes feel isolated and vulnerable—and lead.
2. Know Yourself
“If you, as a leader are going first—whether it was on the playground when you were five, or speaking up in the board room when you’re fifty-five—you need to know yourself very well. A pastor who took a personal assessment, called the Leading Under Pressure inventory, told me he structured the church so that it kept the pressure manageable for him. By doing so, he could compose himself. As he said, ‘When I get under pressure, I become a little uglier version of myself.’ Now, that’s making self-awareness work for both you and your culture.
3. Know Your Goal
“Get clear with your people, your teams, and your stakeholders about your vision for where you are going. People will get on board and follow you if they know where you want the organization to go.
4. Know Your People
“Know their strengths and what you can do well to help them be successful. If you really want to know your people, ask yourself, ‘What takes place, what changes, between me and the people I’m surrounded by, when I step into the room?
5. Know Maturity When You See It
“I like to structure tryouts, because I want and need to know if a person (a new hire, for instance) will ‘dial it in’ when the temperature rises. I want he or she to know how tough the work is going to be. I’m looking for maturity in people who will take responsibility for themselves, edit themselves, and be willing to change. Why does this matter? It takes two weeks to hire the right person–and two years to undo the damage an unwise hire leaves behind.”
It takes two weeks to hire the right person–and two years to undo the damage a terminated hire leaves behind.
McKenna’s “inside-out” approach to leadership development has built-in productive outcomes. One of the best results is how feedback strengthens and sustains a leader in at least three ways:
- Measurable Progress. “A few of my colleagues and I created a personalized feedback report that let people narrate specific parts of their leadership journey and then measure their progress against that narrative. This has allowed leaders to see what competencies and lessons they bring to the table and what lessons they’d like to learn in the future.
- Strategic Networking. “Such self-revealing feedback allows people to identify specific parts of their strategic network and the people they need to turn to for both professional and emotional support.
- Interconnected Relationships. “Every piece of a leader’s development is connected to other people both within and outside your workplace culture. The reality is that every person who surrounds me is connected to where I’m going and why.”
Wherever you’re at in your own leadership journey, Rob’s closing thought is a keeper:
“Today’s millennials have taught us that the question isn’t, ‘Where are you going to church?’ but rather, ‘What does it mean to be the church in every moment?’ We who follow Jesus need to be the church that is changing right before our eyes. Just think, you may be the only opportunity for someone to see and meet the God of hope, love, and grace—and therefore be the possibility and truth that transforms.”