Thoughts on Leadership Development

This week I spent time with 20 leaders who went through our "Leadership Bootcamp" experience. The two day course was designed to help take their skills to the next level. (See my previous post, Creating a Leadership Bootcamp)

We had great discussions and I've been thinking about a few things that really stuck out for the participants: 

Don't mistake enthusiasm for knowledge. In the "Decoding Leadership Styles" session the group talked about how to uncover if an employee is competent enough to complete a specific task or goal, because many times that can be overshadowed by their excitement to do a good job. Asking  "What's working? What's not working?" or "Can you update me on your goals?" should give you enough information to determine if the employee needs more direction from you.

Giving constructive feedback is hard. No one likes to give negative feedback. First, put yourself in the mindset that it's not negative feedback you're giving, it's constructive. The word choice matters, because constructive indicates that you want to help the employee work on the behavior. Also, don't gorge the employee on feedback (how would you feel after eating a quadruple cheeseburger?). Graze. Only share one behavior and avoid phrases like "you always do this" or "you never do this." Those absolutes make the conversation more difficult.

Modeling the right behaviors matters. During bootcamp each executive spoke to the group about their leadership journey and what skills have made them successful. They talked about the importance of getting feedback and actually listening to it, taking risks and failing, and delegating to employees so they feel empowered to make decisions. If we expect our first and second level leaders to have these behaviors, they have to be getting it from the executive level.