Developing managers' senior management skills are more important than ever before. Organisations desperately need a more agile workforce. Where the requirement of this workforce, to constantly change and adapt is embraced and resistance is low.
This requires managers that are able to lead and possess the skills that senior management are expected to have.
Unfortunately the investment into leadership development tends to be:
- either technical skills deemed an absolute necessity for the current role or
- junior management skills such as 'delegation', or 'basic leadership skills'.
In this context, I'm calling these types of skills 'junior management' skills. This is because they are foundation level skills. All managers and leaders need to have the capability to delegate etc. It is assumed (wrongly at times), that more senior level managers already have these skills.
The Leadership Development myth
It is a fallacy that 'higher level' leadership skills is not worth investing in, if the management team is junior. There is often an assumption that these leaders wouldn't understand the concepts being taught. This is insulting and poses questions of the recruitment practices of the company!
With flatter organisational structures and larger spans of control, managers are left in the unenviable position of having high levels of responsibility but not enough skills to do the job well. This often results in disengaged, unproductive employees. The good employees and managers leave, and apathy and declining profitability remains.
Senior Management skills include:
- Strategic thinking
- Creative thinking
- Business Acumen
- High level Leadership
- Soft skills (trust, integrity)
- Emotional and Social Intelligence
It is the ability to know what is going on at a glance. How to network to success, to develop, nurture and implement a vision. To ensure holistic working and the break down of the silo mentality.
These skills and a host of others like these are becoming more and more necessary further down the management structure. The changing environment and the Millennials and Generation Z employees require it. More employees are becoming Maverick Behaviourists and thus the ability to manage and nurture wilfully independent individuals is a must. Organisations are just not prepared for the change in employees' requirements and need to become organisations that Maverick Behaviourists want to work for and alongside. Consumers are becoming drawn to organisations that care and show that they care for all their stakeholders. Reputation is key.
Therefore the argument to nurture and develop 'higher level', executive skills further down the organisation has been won. Leadership skills for employees also is now a necessity for success.
Developing managers' senior management skills
A good consultant/trainer can develop the right solution for your company. Development does not always mean formal training. It may mean facilitation strategy workshops, or executive coaching, or even a change in culture. Your solution provider should be able to help you assess what is needed and design the intervention effectively.
When the decision by the leadership team is 'to train', it is important to remember that 'high level skills training' can be conducted for all levels of management. The solution provider should ensure that everyone (regardless of seniority), understands the material and gets the most out of the intervention. The key here is to hire someone who is more than a good trainer. Someone who understands business and can work out the correct solution for your business.
For example, whenever I'm approached by an organisation that wants 'leadership' or 'soft skills' training I do the following things:
- Analyse what the real problem is (it is often more than 'my managers need leadership training')
- Devise a solution that resolves the issues face
- Include the sub themes that may need addressing (eg build a leadership team that trusts each other)
- Deliver the intervention
The intervention may be one or combinations of many things. One of the things that makes me different is that I have been a senior manager from the age of 24. I've managed, assessed, disciplined or set objectives for almost every business function. I understand what businesses need and am able to credibly discuss the issues that the mangers are facing. I of course understand all the people 'stuff' as well (background in strategic and operational HR). This means that I can not only devise a solution that the organisation really needs but I can deliver it in a way that is most fun and effective!
All companies must think carefully about the solutions that they need and who is best to deliver those needs. The key here is to remember that the days of 'one solution fits all' is over. Every organisation requires a tailored solution that addresses the issues that have been identified.
The world via the Millennials and Generation Z is becoming more Maverick. More wilfully independent. This doesn't necessary mean that there are more Socialised Mavericks. This means that development is key. When you have a workforce and consumer base demanding one thing, and the reluctance to provide the right development to fulfil that thing - only disaster can occur!