In my latest book, Brilliant Leader, I make the point that a person's capability can be summed up by considering an iceberg. Some of an iceberg is visible but most of it is below the surface. The part that is visible represents the individual's knowledge and skills and this is the part that most managers and indeed, traditional training courses focus on. However, a much larger part of a person's capability lies below the surface in the form of their character traits, values, attitudes and behaviours. True leaders understand this and focus much more on these components.
Initially, the smart leader will focus on recruiting the right people based on the relevant traits, values, attitudes and behaviours - after all, any missing knowledge or skills can easily be coached or trained. Beyond this, there is also the opportunity to develop these qualities which in itself is a much more challenging proposition. So how can a leader develop traits, values, attitudes and behaviour among their people?
1. Lead By Example
If your staff respect you, they will be heavily influenced by your example. You should continuously exhibit the values, attitudes and behaviours that you want in your staff and over time, your example will rub off on them.
The role of the coach is both powerful and influential. Of course, in order to be effective it requires that you are an accomplished coach. Through coaching, you are able to influence people's behaviour by helping them to consider what is working well and why alongside any aspects of their behaviour that could be improved and how. In turn, a change in behaviour - once it is seen to have been effective - influences the person's values and attitudes and in some cases, it will also lead to the long-term development of their character traits.
Just as people are influenced by their leader, they are also influenced by their peers. By developing a great teamworking environment and creating a value led culture, leaders are able to influence the development of values, attitudes and in turn, behaviours.
4. Experiential Learning
Some aspects of experiential learning occur on the job - either through exposure to new and challenging work assignments or via coaching. However, well designed and expertly facilitated experiential workshops can also have a dramatic impact on values, attitudes and behaviours and over the time this will also have an effect on character traits. The reason for this is that throughout an experiential workshop people will have a multitude of 'lightbulb moments' when they can be heard to say "ah ha - now I really get it".
And that is really the point. When people really get something, their attitudes and values are often altered forever. As soon as they apply this to their working environments, their behaviour changes. And over time, this will lead to the long-term development of their character traits.
In an ideal world leaders will hire people with the relevant traits, values, attitudes and behaviours. When this isn't possible they can be developed using the four tools discussed in this article - and preferably a good mix of all four. Either way, the iceberg can be conquered. Brilliant Leaders know this and do something about it.
Simon Cooper is Chief Executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, based in the UK but operating worldwide. He is also the author of Brilliant Leader and architect of the unique and powerful experiential workshop, Brilliant Leadership.
4 days ago