Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Kate Williams - Consultant and Coach
Having the support of senior leaders is crucial for leadership development within team members. There are several ways in which senior leaders can support and sponsor leadership development:
1. By working on their own development and seeing themselves as part of the system
Senior leaders can assist with organisational development by undertaking some leadership training of their own. If senior organisation members are unwilling to undertake development or seek opportunities for feedback or coaching themselves, they are perpetuating an unchanging system. By demonstrating that they are open to changing and working on their own development, they’re setting an example for those around them to do the same.
2. By committing time and effort to assisting employees with change
One of the most successful ways in which senior team members can help is by committing themselves to making sure the chosen leadership programme works. One way to do this is for the senior leaders to undertake a shortened version of the development programme their managers and staff are involved in. This means that by the end of it they have a good understanding of the likely discussions, ideas, challenges, theories, models and ways of thinking that their employees will explore and become knowledgeable about. Then, when employees put their learning into practice in the workplace they will understand the language, viewpoint and reasoning for this and can support and nurture it, rather than shut it down.
3. By being visible
Senior team members can be supportive by being visible and present during a development programme. By showing up, listening and having conversations and discussions they clearly demonstrate this is something that is important to them. In doing so, they show they are invested in the future growth of their managers and organisation. This doesn’t mean senior team members must be present for the entire duration of the training. Rather, they can drop in several times throughout the duration of the course.
4. By acting as a development sponsor
As well as showing up and being visible during training, senior leaders can be allocated a group of employees and act as a development sponsor. This is someone who is there to have discussions, take feedback and ensure what’s being learned translates into the workplace. By acting in this role, senior leaders are showing their commitment to the leadership programme and development.
5. By seeing leadership development as dynamic
Senior leaders must be seen to treat the development of everyone as a critical component of enabling people at work to meet changing demands and support organisational success. Taking opportunities to develop and grow has to apply to all leaders, not just those on a formal training course. Leadership development needs to be part of the culture of the organisation on an ongoing basis in order to be successful.