If you want to be successful in your job as an L&D professional, you need to include change leadership skills in your skillset as well as facilitating developing these skills in your organisation’s other leaders. After all, L&D is all about initiating, instituting, inspiring and leading change.
Part of the problem with developing change leadership skills is that there are many recognised leadership types. So the whole thing can be confusing.
The psychologist, Kurt Lewin, developed a leadership styles framework in the 1930s, saying that leaders are:
Fast-forward to 2007, when Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle, in their book, "Growing Pains, set out an entire leadership style matrix.
Recognised leadership types
Among the more commonly identified leadership types are:
There’s also the concept of inner leadership – that is, what goes on inside the leader. On the other hand, outer leadership is about what the leader does. Harmonising outer and inner leadership is important for achieving organisational change successfully.
Combining humility and will
In his book, ‘Good to Great’, Jim Collins discusses why some organisations are great at leadership while others are merely ‘good’. He concludes that all ‘great’ organisations have leaders that combine humility and will. These leaders put others – notably their team – first but they’re also clear about where the organisation needs to go and are dedicated to getting the organisation there.
By contrast, when organisations are failing, the leaders often blame their teams – but it tends not to occur to them to look at themselves.
After all, introducing and leading change will fail if no one knows why the change is necessary. Leaders may understand why changes are needed but others in the organisation may not. So, it’s important for leaders to communicate their vision – and to do so effectively – rather than merely assume that other people also understand, and approve, the vision for change.
When it comes to leading change, focusing on the things that aren’t going well - or quickly – can demotivate those being led. It’s also important to take time and effort to emphasise the positive aspects of what’s happening – and to celebrate what goes right.
There’s a consensus that all would-be successful leaders – regardless of their leadership style, type and so on - must choose the right action at the right time and “keep a steady eye on the ball.” They must be courageous, self-aware – and must ensure that their team of followers provide consistent support.
That’s easy to write but difficult to achieve consistently. Moreover, leadership means different things to different people – which makes leadership difficult to define and do.
There’s also a difference between theory and practice. You can learn the theory of leadership relatively quickly but that doesn’t make you a great leader – in the same way that knowing the theory of how to drive a car doesn’t necessarily make you a great driver.
Consequently, achieving mastery of the leadership skillset requires on-going, long-term development - often including some coaching and mentoring.
We have an extensive library of courses covering key skill areas from Leadership and Management fundamentals to Health and Safety essentials. We know companies need a learning solution specific to their requirements, training budget and learning culture.
At Engage in Learning we will work in partnership with you to help you find the right solution and use our flexible licencing model to ensure your learning is cost effective.