In their book, Leaders Ready Now, Matthew Paese, Audrew Smith and William Byham point out that accelerating leadership in your organization requires that people take bold risks that have uncertain outcomes. I make a similar case about ingenuity in my book, Tribal Alchemy: Turning What You Have Into What You Need.
Maybe the two ideas are connected. What if…accelerating the development of leaders- at every level- through meaningful risk taking served to increase the collective ingenuity of those leaders (and those they lead)? And what if increasing collective ingenuity efforts served to accelerate the growth of those same leaders?
When leaders are put in a place of meaningful risk –where they must facilitate collective ingenuity– it increases both their development and the creative solutions that lead to greater success.
Here then are few strategies you can employ to combine a leader’s development with his or her ability to lead creative change.
Increase energy and engagement for APPLIED learning.
Accelerating leadership and ingenuity occurs when real problems are the focus of learning and development. Use the daily challenges and opportunities of a leader as the primary environment for development. Application of learning takes hold when the risks are real, the stakes are high and the support is tangible. Don’t develop people in a vacuum. The messiness of problems and possibilities is the environment where leaders realize they need to develop and where they learn how to lead collective ingenuity efforts.
Accelerated leader-development and ingenuity occurs when leaders in an organization solve REAL problems that are critical to success. These should be real-time case studies that have real-time consequences. In order to get this kind of experience, more senior leaders must distribute leadership in such a way that mid and front line leaders assume responsibility for mission-critical work. If the work doesn’t matter, than increasing leadership development and ingenuity is not necessary.
Leaders Need To Feel Healthy Pressure
If the work matters, then leaders will more naturally engage in their own development and take seriously the need to grow. They will also be more intent on finding and facilitating ingenious solutions. The message to leaders needs to be: Your development is A MUST so that you have the capacity to accomplish critical objectives. We support you and are counting on you.
Leaders at Every Level Should Facilitate the Development of Leaders Around Them
Developing strong leaders at every level is critical. Part of the role of a leader is to develop leaders who can not only replace her, but can also increase ingenious solution making RIGHT NOW. Don’t just see the development of people as a strategy for “someday.” See it as a way to increase your organization’s current ingenuity quotient. If the focus of development is too far in the future, then the need and desire to engage will diminish.