Category Archives: Leadership Development

Five Great Myths of Leadership in Practice

Undoubtedly, leadership is much talked and written about subject in the management literature. In behavioral training too, leadership has the top priority.

This is due to creation of leadership that is not in reality. There are many managers who still believe that leadership is a born talent, leadership is only for top management and one should have an inbuilt charismatic personality to be a leader. This belief has negative ramification to leadership development efforts in organizations. In this article I have  identified five great leadership myths:

Leadership is a rare skill. 

There is a wide spread belief that leadership is rare because leadership skills are rare with people in organization. But the fact remain is that many people possess leadership competency within them, we realize this when opportunities are extended to tem to demonstrate their leadership prowess. The formal organizational structures discourage people to exhibit leadership behavior.

 Leaders are born not made.
Biographies of great leaders and stories surrounding them create a picture that leadership is a born talent. But the fact is that many leadership skill and competencies can be learned. However, there is no simple formula or model through which leadership can be developed. This involves a rigorous process and many times a lifetime effort is required.

Leaders are charismatic.
There is a tendency to think that one needs to be stylish, smart, and charming in appearance to become a leader. This is only half true. In reality, successful leadership practices and behaviors contribute for a leadership rather than charisma self leading a person to effective leadership behavior.

Leadership exists only at the top of an organization.
Organizations have played into this myth by focusing leadership efforts only on top management. In reality, leadership is required at every level of operation in an organization. On has to be a good leader even in a single person operation to excel in that. Therefore, there must be multiplication of leadership roles.

The leader controls, directs and manipulates.
Leadership is a role of empowering the followers as opposed to popular misnomer leadership as a power seeking role. Leadership is epitome of equity, fair play and sacrifice and not the act of manipulation. Effective leaders ensure rewards to others and the cost of self-comfort. Further, facilitation is what leaders engage in and to controlling and directing.

Managerial Implication

The practical utility of five great myths will be enormous to all managers, particularly for top Managers. Organizations pay heavily, when we believe in something that is not real. For example, our leadership efforts may lack conviction if we believe that leadership is merely a born talent. Therefore, leadership development program in any organization must commence with dispelling these myths. The other valuable insight that managers must put into action is that leadership must be business of every body in the organization and not be confined to top echelons of handful of managers.


Takes Initiative

  • Run a social event for your organization.
  • Deal with a business crisis.
  • Complete a project with a tight deadline.
  • Supervise the purchase of a product, program, equipment, or system.
  • Take on an “undoable” project (the last person who tried it failed).
  • Conduct an after action review (lessons learned) on a failed project and/or a successful project.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What are the differences?
  • Do a problem prevention analysis.
  • Start doing brainteasers. This will stimulate different types of thinking that can be helpful in problem-solving.
  • Solicit input from those closest to the problem.
  • In the problem identification phase and the solution generating phase, generate as many solutions to the problem as possible.  Think “outside of the box.”
  • Evaluate your strategic-thinking skills (Successful Manager’s Handbook by Personnel Decisions International).
  • Before making an important decision, develop criteria for making the decision.
  • Include others in brainstorming solutions. They can be people involved in the entire project/task, those involved at different points, or those not involved at all.
  • Put a timeframe on the problem-solving. Develop a plan with specific dates that a solution has to be found.
  • Get those involved in the problem together in a room, brainstorm possible solutions, identify areas of agreement, and discuss areas of disagreement. Determine a solution.
  • Find a coach and mentor who can help you develop your problem-solving skills.
  • Evaluate your recent decisions. How much time did you take? Did you gather enough information?  Was the decision consistent with your values?
  • Diagnose the problem using a problem analysis matrix. Once you identify the cause of the problem, take the following steps:
    • Write down the cause.
    • Gather as much information as you can about the cause. If useful, develop a timeline or flowchart to help you “see” the information.
    • List possible solutions and outcomes.
    • Assess the risk associated with each solution.
    • Select a solution and implement.
    •  Monitor and measure progress. Make adjustments to the original solution


Human resources has a compelling mission to provide “value added” services; however, this expectation is often hard to describe.

Further, HR managers are asked to provide “line of sight” plans that support institutional strategy and challenges; again, not an intuitive task. It is, perhaps, more clarifying to examine effective, leading-edge practices that have been or could be put in place that deliver on the promise of excellence in human resource management. Here, some successful strategies are examined in the
areas of talent retention, growth and employee engagement.

HR Initiatives That Contribute to Organizational Intelligence:

The seven initiatives listed below are illustrative of where HR can move beyond traditional functional boundaries to contribute value on the action side of talent management. The intended outcome from such investments would be evidence and measurement of the degree to which the organization is resilient, dynamic and flexible, and that it is optimistic about its fitness for the future.

1- Retention strategy
HR can assist the organization in identifying its high-achieving strategic and core performers. It can coach local academic and operational leadership in the conduct of retention interviews, which include one-on-one meetings with high performers to assure that the individual understands that his or her performance is highly valued and to discover how the organization can best support the performer’s continuing future engagement and success.

2- Succession planning
Higher education is historically an egalitarian culture resistant to formal identification of heirs apparent. On the other hand, it is clear that organizational succession does occur less formally. HR can consult with decanal leadership to identify performers with potential for advancement. Organizational charts that pictorially reflect performance, loss risk (including retirement eligibility) and promotability will enable planned developmental and experiential investments necessary to enable internal advancement. Roles are critical to driving the organization’s long-term competitive advantage. Performances in these roles require specialized skills or knowledge such as teaching, research, fundraising or investment

3- Knowledge transfer
HR can assist the organization in identifying orderly means of transferring knowledge to new and advancing faculty and staff. Position overlap, particularly in staff positions, is quite effective in knowledge transfer and often not provided for in higher education. When succession or career path advancement has been planned, multiyear experiences and cross-training can be provided prior to promotion.

4- Internally driven performers
As institutions of higher education grow in size, interest in and ability to micromanage individual performance diminishes. HR can contribute greater value in attraction and selection processes by identifying candidate characteristics that contribute independently to the academy. One of these characteristics that could be specified as “additional qualifications” is a sense of personal satisfaction coming from within rather than reliance on outside direction and praise of others.

5- High performance teams
HR is often asked to assist in populating task-based committees or to facilitate the performance of such groups. These teams can be appointed on a representative basis so all interests have a voice. HR can encourage and enable appointment to task forces, committees or teams based on competencies required by the task (e.g., knowledge experts, statisticians, writers, researchers, meeting management.

6- Self organizing success
Every organization experiences moments of brilliance. When these moments occur, the people involved share in a sense of success. HR can help the organization repeat these occurrences and create a culture of self-organizing successes. To accomplish repetition, HR could use techniques and assist successful teams in understanding what circumstances enabled high performance so they and other teams can replicate the circumstances. The questions are these: What did people do individually that contributed to success? What was unique about the team’s performance that ensured the result? What about the organization and its policies or culture enables such a success? Can what is learned be put in place to increase the likelihood of future successes? Most importantly, when the organization experiences success, can the same or similar groups be empowered to work further and independently on their own?

7- Leadership investment, onboarding and transition support
HR can analyze task-based competencies that create success in leadership positions, including personal characteristics that contribute achievement in academe. It can build these into advancement coaching, interview questions, performance feedback and coaching support for members of the academy who are in or destined for leadership roles. HR can assure that onboarding plans include not only introduction to roles and key institutional players, but also to culture and climate.


10 of the most common leadership and management errors, and highlighting what you can do to avoid them. If you can learn about these here, rather than through experience, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble:
1. Lack of Feedback

 Sara is a talented sales representative, but she has a habit of answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. Her boss is aware of this, but he’s waiting for her performance review to tell her where she’s going wrong. Unfortunately, until she’s been alerted to the problem, she’ll continue putting off potential customers.

Failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t provide prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

2. Not Making Time for Your Team

When you’re a manager or leader, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you don’t make yourself available to your team.

Yes, you have projects that you need to deliver. But your people must come first – without you being available when they need you, your people won’t know what to do, and they won’t have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.

Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when “your door is always open,” so that your people know when they can get your help. You can also use Management By Walking Around, which is an effective way to stay in touch with your team.

3. Being Too “Hands-Off”

One of your team has just completed an important project. The problem is that he misunderstood the project’s specification, and you didn’t stay in touch with him as he was working on it. Now, he’s completed the project in the wrong way, and you’re faced with explaining this to an angry client.

Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement. But going to the opposite extreme (with a hand-offs management style) isn’t a good idea either – you need to get the balance right.

4. Being Too Friendly

Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get on with. However, you’ll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you’re too friendly with them.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize with your people. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss.

5. Failing to Define Goals

When your people don’t have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can’t be productive if they have no idea what they’re working for, or what their work means. They also can’t prioritize their workload effectively, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.

Avoid this mistake by learning how to set SMART goals for your team. Use a Team Charter to specify where your team is going, and detail the resources it can draw upon. Also, use principles from Management by Objectives to align your team’s goals to the mission of the organization.

6. Misunderstanding Motivation

Do you know what truly motivates your team? Here’s a hint: chances are, it’s not just money!

Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that their team is only working for monetary reward. However, it’s unlikely that this will be the only thing that motivates them.

For example, people seeking a greater work/life balance might be motivated by telecommuting days or flexible working. Others will be motivated by factors such as achievement, extra responsibility, praise, or a sense of camaraderie.

7. Hurrying Recruitment
When your team has a large workload, it’s important to have a full team. But filling a vacant role too quickly can be a disastrous mistake.

Hurrying recruitment can lead to recruiting the wrong people for your team: people who are uncooperative, ineffective or unproductive. With the wrong person, you’ll have wasted valuable time and resources when they eventually leave. What’s worse, other team members will be stressed and frustrated by having to “carry” the under-performer.

8. Not “Walking the Walk”

If you make personal telephone calls during work time, or speak negatively about your CEO, can you expect people on your team not to do this too? Probably not!

As a leader, you need to be a role model for your team. This means that if they need to stay late, you should also stay late to help them. Or, if your organization has a rule that no one eats at their desk, then set the example and head to the break room every day for lunch. So remember, your team is watching you all the time. If you want to shape their behavior, start with your own. They’ll follow suit.

9. Not Delegating

Some managers don’t delegate, because they feel that no-one apart from themselves can do key jobs properly. This can cause huge problems as work bottlenecks around them, and as they become stressed and burned out.

Delegation does take a lot of effort up-front, and it can be hard to trust your team to do the work correctly. But unless you delegate tasks, you’re never going to have time to focus on the “broader-view” that most leaders and managers are responsible for. What’s more, you’ll fail to develop your people so that they can take the pressure off you.

10. Misunderstanding Your Role

Once you become a leader or manager, your responsibilities are very different from those you had before.

However, it’s easy to forget that your job has changed, and that you now have to use a different set of skills to be effective. This leads to you not doing what you’ve been hired to do – to lead and to manage


In today’s world we are challenged by more aggressive competition, a tough employment market, more demanding employees, increased workloads and waves of information. This more challenging leadership environment makes it important to strengthen our leadership skills throughout the organization.

 As a Leadership Development concept, I will discuss Communication.


Develop a communication plan for either internal or external communication. Who will communicate? What will be communicated? When will it be communicated? Where will it becommunicated? How will it be communicated?

1. Have you and your employees complete the communications checklist.
2. Conduct a communications audit.
3. For one week, monitor how much time you spend talking, listening, probing, and problem solving in each of your conversations. Calculate the ratios/percentages. In most cases, effective communicators focus more on listening and probing.
4. Learn how to probe… ask good questions. Ask open-ended questions such as those that start with “what,” “how,” “describe,” etc.
5. Evaluate your listening skills.
6. Resolve a conflict between warring subordinates.
7. Develop a personal information survey for your employees (family information, hobbies,interests, etc.).
8. Actively solicit feedback about your own communication and communication within the organization. Ask staff questions like: When we talk, are you generally clear about what I am saying? Do you think we communicate well around here? Have you got any ideas about how we could communicate better? Consider including these questions (or similar
ones) in your performance management process, or staff meetings.
9. Working with your staff, define how you should communicate in the organization. Develop consensus regarding:
– How disagreements should be handled.
– How horizontal communication should work (staff to staff).
– How vertical communication should work (manager to staff, staff to manager).
– Ask your employees what information they would like to receive regularly from you.
– What information should be available and when.
– Once consensus is reached, support the achievement of these goals through positive reinforcement and coaching.
10. Look at the impact of the structure of your organization and how it impacts on communication. Indirect communication (communication that is transferred from person to person) is notorious for causing problems. Look at increasing direct communication where the
person with the message to send does it directly with the receiver.
11. Demonstrate active listening…eye contact, take notes, keep your mouth closed, don’t interrupt,paraphrase what you have heard, and nod to signal you understand what they are saying. This will set a tone and contribute to a positive communication climate.
12. Work on other non-verbal communication…check your posture, lean forward to show interest, smile, reduce distractions, etc.
13. Communicate the “why” behind the “what.”
14. List the key people in your organization that you need to be successful. Make a special effort to keep them informed.
15. Use multiple communication methods to send important organizational information.
16. In meetings, ensure you’re not the sole source of information. Ask others to give updates and provide information. Assign others to gather information for the next meeting.
17. Update your staff on recent developments within your organization.
18. Don’t “shoot the messenger” (that is, don’t punish people who give you bad news).
19. Informally spend time with employees (water cooler chats) finding out how things are going.
20. When starting meetings, don’t wait for latecomers. That just sets the standard that future meetings will start late.
21. Circulate the minutes of meetings to update absent employees and to gain the consensus of the employees who were present regarding what was covered.



The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. True Leaders can tell where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. This makes goal setting a very important part of becoming a good leader. Without goals and plans to reach them, one is like a ship that has set sails with no clear destination in mind!

You can set your professional and organizational goals as a leader, on the basis of the following guidelines:

• Break down your organizational objectives into SMART goals for you and your employees.

• Discuss expectations openly. This will clarify those expectations with employees.

• Ask your employees how their goals contribute to the organization’s success. If they can’t tell you, help them translate the organization’s goals into individual goals.

• Ask people to summarize expectations for you and develop their specific action steps.

• Develop a vision for your organization.

• Take the employees reward and recognition assessment.

• Brainstorm 10 new ideas to reward and recognize your employees that you are not using now.

• Ask your employees how they would like to be rewarded and recognized.

• Call people by name.

• Develop a personal information survey for your employees (family information, hobbies, interests, etc.).

• Focus you and your team on accomplishments, not activities or hours worked.

• Ask employees to set their own work “due” dates and then hold them to it.

• Map out each employee’s roles and responsibilities. Communicate those roles and responsibilities to each team member.

• Explain to each employee how their job contributes to the team’s success and the organization’s success.

• Identify each employee’s strengths and best match them to meet your organization’s goals.

• Increase the number of one-on-one meetings to discuss progress of work and hold individuals accountable.

• Prioritize and work on the things that are important and not what is urgent.

• Maintain a positive attitude and eliminate “it can’t be done” attitude.

• Set a goal for your team of not complaining for 5 business days. When you achieve that level, set a new goal.

• Convey a sense of urgency on a finite number of tasks.

• Look at the projects/tasks you have completed in the last year. Which ones were the most satisfying? Which ones are you the most proud of? Work to get more of those kinds of projects/tasks into your job. It will motivate you and those around you.

• Trust your employees by giving them more responsibility.

7 Ways to Optimize Your Optimism

Some people seem wired for optimism, but most of us have to work at it. Here are seven ways to be realistically positive no matter what comes your way

Appreciate and activate your strengths. You have real skills, rich life experiences, and a reservoir of good intention. Put all of it to work every day.

Opt for a partial solution when perfection isn’t possible. It’s always better to make some progress than to endure life as a chronically frustrated perfectionist.

Imagine success before it unfolds. Follow the lead of successful athletes. Before you take on a challenging situation, picture yourself dealing with it in a winning way.

Act yourself into a new way of thinking. It sounds a bit backward, but it works. Pretend to be positive, carry yourself with confidence, communicate an upbeat message — and those behaviors will start shaping your attitude.

Talk about what’s going right. Even in the most dysfunctional environments, good things happen. Start spotting those success stories, and make them the focus of your conversations.

Put problems in perspective. Too much thinking can drag us down, especially when we generalize (“I’m no good with numbers”), catastrophize (“If I don’t make this next sale, I’m going to lose my job”), or personalize (“It was all my fault”). Learn to recognize these distorted interpretations, and replace them with a view of the situation that’s scaled down to fit reality.

Do what you can instead of dwelling on what you can’t. There’s so much to be concerned about these days. Try to accept what you can’t change, but work like heck in those many situations where you can make a difference.


ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Knowledge is an intangible organizational asset which does not show up on the balance sheet and is, therefore, often ignored by managers. Yet knowledge makes a profound contribution to organizational success, and forward looking managers try to capture and use knowledge as a strategic organizational asset—they do this by encouraging their firms to become “learning organizations”.
Learning organizations attempt to understand how individuals and organizations learn, and in doing so they are able to catalyze the process of acquiring and utilizing newly obtained knowledge. Learning organizations develop a culture in which individual development is a priority and where individuals are empowered, motivated, and are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge.
Researchers have identified at least seven factors that contribute to building a learning organization. These include:
1. Providing continuous learning opportunities for employees. These organizations encourage individuals to learn on the job and they provide opportunities to employees for continued education and development.
2. Encouraging inquiry and dialogue through which individuals develop analytical skills and are able to convey their views and listen to other people’s views and opinions. This creates a culture of inquiring, experimenting, and feedback.
3. Developing team learning which involves structuring jobs to promote group work in order to exploit the different thinking modes of individuals. In this culture collaborative efforts are highly valued.
4. Embedding technology systems into work (e.g. data bases, shared drives, wikis etc.) to enhance the capture and sharing of learning.
5. Empowering individuals to set their own agenda as part of a collaborative vision.
6. Establishing connections to the organization’s environment and community, and allowing individuals to view how their work affects the whole organization.
7. Demonstrating strategic leadership that is supportive of the learning process and in which leaders understand that organizational and individual learning leads to superior outcomes.
So here is today’s Daily HR Tip: Critically assess your organization’s ability as a “learning organization” by asking searching questions based on the seven dimensions of a learning organization listed above. If your organization is not cutting it (and most will not), ask yourself: “what can I do to help build the infrastructure of a learning organization?”
It may sound a little like “pie in the sky” for many organizations to become a learning organization, however when you consider that Google, Apple, 3M, Johnson & Johnson, and many other highly successful and well respected organizations subscribe to the principles learning organizations, maybe “pie in the sky” is really quite “down to earth”.

Making Learning Fun

Make Learning Fun!
Want to add some fun into the workplace while making sure that company or
department standards are being met? It’s easy!
How many of you have a standard greeting that staff is expect to use when they
answer the phone? And how many of your staff is using it? Here is a way to add
some fun into your workplace AND to ensure everyone is using the standard
Tell everyone on your team that you are going to start randomly calling to see if
they are using the standard greeting. You might want to include the standard
greeting in your communication for those who have forgotten what it is.
1. Then start randomly calling. When you call, make it quick. Simply listen to
the greeting and if the staff member answers the phone correctly, make a
big deal of it. You might have a bell you ring or you can say “ding, ding,
ding, ding, ding” then say something like “You Are A Winner! Your name
goes into pot for the drawing!!” and hang up. That’s all there is to it.
2. Then put their name in the hat for a prize drawing later.
3. If the greeting isn’t correct you might blow on a whistle or have a gong
sound, something that isn’t too loud, of course – this isn’t a punishment,
it’s supposed to be fun! Or you can say “Sorry, try again next time!” and
hang up.
4. Be sure to call everyone at least a couple of times to make it fair and to
give everyone a chance to get comfortable with the greeting.
You can see how this doesn’t have to take a lot of time yet it can really be fun for
your staff.
So be creative! Make learning fun and you will help staff incorporate the
company and department standards.

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