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Organizations usually know what they want from their people 每 even if they haven*t articulated it 每 but aren*t always sure how to help people change and grow. They recognize that developing a person*s leadership capacity requires more than just increasing skills, knowledge, and experience.

To ensure people develop as they work, organizations should use rigorous, pedagogically sound approaches. They should be based on proven models of how adults learn and grow and be structured around clear outcomes. In addition, approaches should increase people*s learning skills so they can correct themselves when they get off track and navigate from learning curve to learning curve.

Being aware of one*s development stage, developmental priorities, and desired outcomes accelerates growth. Generally speaking, high-performing professionals transition through four role stages. To perform well at each stage, a person must have specific competencies and an appropriate way of acting (e.g., relating to self and others). We*ve all seen the damage done by a leader who is intelligent and skilled but not developed enough to handle a situation.

The following section outlines learning approaches that will accelerate growth at each stage.

Improve learning skills while developing technical capabilities

Most self-sufficient professionals easily master the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their role competently. Encouraging them to adopt new learning approaches will help quickly scale learning curves.

While enhancing their technical capabilities, learners should focus on
Learning to ask questions 每 particularly questions that help them articulate their perspective and assumptions. This helps them embrace the complexity of a skill, topic, or situation and also increases their self awareness.
Becoming self-correcting. Learn what excellence looks like and how to improve quality.
Gathering robust feedback. This gives learners the data necessary to self-correct. It also builds their network of support by involving others in their learning.

These learning skills are particularly important for people who have been educated in China. China*s education system rewards people who know the ※one right answer§ and can recall copious amounts of information. Helping young Chinese professions to think critically about what they are learning and how they are performing will accelerate their learning and help them apply what they are learning to the real world.

Strengthen problem solving skills by focusing on methodology, critical thinking, and judgment

Given China*s tumultuous operating environment, leaders must be able to solve complex problems. This requires quickly identifying the essence of a problem, determining the best tools and approaches for tackling specific issues, making sense of ambiguous data, developing a systems perspective, and crafting pragmatic recommendations.

Although few people begin their careers with strong problem solving skills, with proper training and coaching, most intelligent people can become solid problem solvers. Focusing on the following three areas accelerates this process:

Problem solving methodology. Introduce a formal approach to problem solving that includes problem definition, problem structuring, tools and frameworks (e.g., Porter*s Five Forces). Provide practice (e.g., problems, projects, case studies) to enable learners to become fluent with different methodologies. As they build their skills, help them to select the best tools for any situation.
Critical thinking skills. Teaching thinking draws upon methodologies traditionally used to teach mathematics and writing. Start by developing dexterity in logic, drawing comparisons, and relationship mapping. Transition to systems thinking and constructing multiple perspectives. Throughout the process, encourage learners to synthesize rather than merely summarize and to push from conclusions to implications.
Judgment. Training people to systematically direct their attention to specific aspects of a problem or situation broadens their perspective (e.g., illuminates implications) and enriches their experience. In addition, problem solvers should be encouraged to build broad, diverse networks to tap into organizational memory and the wisdom of their peers.

Cultivate integrated development

Execution is a key development need for most emerging leaders. Execution is not just a matter of doing things oneself, but getting entire groups to make things happen. To do this, leaders need to act strategically while also attending to people.

People rarely choose to follow someone simply because of their abilities and knowledge. They seek leaders who are competent, inspiring, genuine, courageous, honorable, and committed. Emerging leaders need to be aware how their decisions and actions affect others, quickly notice when things are not working, and modify their actions real-time.

Many professionals have the technical skills to manage, but miss the ※something else§ that makes them a leader. For most people, developing this requires honing hard and soft skills and making cognitive and behavioral changes. Furthermore, to teach emerging leaders to deal with complexity, learning and development should be integrated into day-to-day challenges, which are far more complex than any case or course material.

So how do you help someone make changes that will increase their leadership effectiveness?

Who we are determines and defines how we lead. Developing the personal qualities necessary to be an effective leader involves enhancing awareness of self and others. It requires a willingness to reflect on and learn from our experience.

At this stage of development, it is essential to use an approach that recognizes how complex people are. Leadership competencies therefore comprise a range of dimensions including cognitive and emotional intelligence, relational skills and self-awareness, as well as the ability to connect to a larger vision and integrate multiple competencies.

These multiple competencies provide a foundation that supports leaders as they navigate through complex challenges.

As Chinese and western managers help their companies expanded overseas, they are discovering the importance of multiple competencies. Understanding the market and developing a sound strategy requires cognitive intelligence. Executing the strategy attracting staff, developing clients or customers, delivering excellent service 每 requires much more. Leaders need to make personal connections and build relationships with people with different backgrounds, mindsets, and habits. This requires not just emotional and relational competencies, but also physical awareness and resilience to manage stress and project presence. Leading any group, especially a multicultural group, in creating and fulfilling an inspiring vision requires spiritual depth. Given these and other demands, the ability to integrate multiple competencies is crucial to sustainability.

At this stage of development, learning involves articulating desired outcomes, becoming aware of gaps between desired and actual performance, and developing and executing strategies to close these gaps. Integrated development involves enhancing awareness and helping a person learn to correct him or herself by building underlying competencies that influence performance.

Facilitate transformational development

Shifting from managing to leading and from leading in a routine situation to leading a group through adaptive change requires fundamentally changing our modus operandi 每 how we act or show up in the world.

In today*s rapidly changing world, leaders need to help organizations become what they need to be, not merely sustain what they are. Resolving China*s toughest challenges, such as increasing the living standard in China*s western provinces, will require leaders who are able to help groups see themselves from a new perspective and shape their future by making courageous and productive choices. For example, as China*s agricultural industry develops, fewer farmers will be needed. Farming communities will need to adjust their economies and equip younger generations to thrive in an urban environment. Leading communities through this adaptive challenge will require mature leaders who are continuously learning and transforming themselves.

How to you help someone transform their leadership style?

Because our actions and reactions are guided by how we interpret the world around us and our view of ourselves, acquiring new skills, knowledge, or experience is not enough. Making this transition requires changing our self image and how we relate to ourselves and others.

Most professional development efforts focus on enhancing our ability to perform, but to perform within the world as we see it using variations of a known approach. Transformational development involves moving beyond our current view of the world, exploring our hidden assumptions and inner contradictions, and developing the capacity to act differently.

How can an organization support leaders in this sort of development?

Transformational development can be stimulated by new roles, structured interventions, and experiences that nurture awareness and cause people to re-examine their assumptions. Many organizations have found sending someone on an overseas assignment or to solve a tough problem with a new group of people (e.g., PMM or turnaround) helps them transform.

Because transformational development involves changing how we view ourselves, a supportive community is essential to nurturing this type of growth. People need to share experiences with and bounce ideas off of others who are also engaged in inquiry.

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