How can we develop leadership traits in our team?
Leadership traits are simply the consistent behavior of leaders: accountability, self-awareness, inclusiveness, and communication. Developing leadership traits is more challenging because most training approaches don’t work.
You can’t teach a trait. A leader’s behavior becomes a trait with commitment, deliberate practice, and application.
Leadership traits come from a commitment larger than the behavior. Take communication for instance, it’s the behavior yet the trait comes from a commitment to optimal relationships and results. Commitments matter because circumstances arise when communication is difficult. In these moments it requires courage to communicate rather than compromise on the quality of communication.
When a leader communicates in difficult circumstances, the leader builds the capability to communicate inside that difficult situation and others. Building the capability makes the leader more confident in other situations that may be even more difficult. As the leader continues being committed, a trait emerges as the leader continues to practice effective communication with others and building relationships.
Leadership traits come from deliberate practice where the leader practices the behavior in whole and in part. What is required to encourage the development of leadership traits is application. Providing opportunities for the leadership behavior to be practiced in a variety of situations grows the capability of the leader and helps them to remain committed to the outcome. Application accelerates the development of leadership traits. The more application by a committed leader, the faster the trait will become observed by others.
So, the solution is not teaching. You can maybe train the importance of a trait using stories. Firsthand experience and more application through deliberate practice are a much stronger solution to develop leadership traits.
Start with an immersive, first-hand experience of the value of the trait and support the leader creating their commitment. To support trait development in the leader, you ideally want several leaders and teams becoming committed together as the social aspect supports accountability, deliberate practice, and shared commitment which creates the norm. A cultural norm is an ideal level of support for a leader developing a new trait.
Then you want to provide opportunities for application in a variety of contexts so the leadership capabilities can increase rapidly. Some of these contexts will be challenging and confronting so an Accountability Partner, Peer Mentoring Circle and/or Impact Coach can provide support through difficult circumstances.
Find the Path to Success
To develop leadership traits in your team, first create the commitment to the leadership trait using a participant-driven experience. You want the participant to be in control, make choices, and examine the results of their actions. Learn2 programs such as Save the Titanic for teams and leaders or Lead the Endurance for leaders are designed to provide this opportunity.
Next, ensure application through a meaningful Impact Project with at least two support structure such as a leadership coach, peer mentoring circles and/or an accountability partner.
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