For businesses to thrive, they need leaders and leadership teams that can navigate marketplace challenges and opportunities. Overcoming problems, finding innovative solutions, and being proactive in the market become daily tasks for those in positions of leadership.

So, how can businesses ensure their leaders are suited to getting the job done?

There are essentially two parts to this question: the first is about selecting the right kinds of people for the organisation and role; the second is about helping those people to perform and develop.

Here at Edgecumbe, we’re driven to help improve leadership in an evidence-based, practical and effective way that yields meaningful results – both for the individual and the organisation.

Despite what some may wish you to believe, when it comes to the selection and development of leaders there is no ‘best’, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Our own research confirms what most people know: good leaders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The challenges and opportunities that face your organisation are unique and varied. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and this makes it very unlikely any individual leader, however brilliant, will be highly effective in dealing with every leadership challenge. It is unrealistic to think one person can do everything in a business to the highest standard. At some point, all of us are brought face to face with our limitations.

Therefore, we believe the development of leadership in an organisation must address both individual capabilities AND the ability to work effectively in teams of people with complementary attributes. This way complete leadership can be provided by incomplete leaders.

Leadership development

By approaching leadership in this way, leaders can focus on doing what they do best, rather than trying to become ‘perfect’. Focusing on developing collaborative capacities also helps build organisational agility and resilience when responding to challenges or opportunities. As businesses and markets are changing so rapidly, the need for leadership that can adapt as required becomes hugely beneficial.

Because the context and situation of a business change over time, the development of its leadership needs to be relevant and practical to its specific circumstances. Our task-based model of leadership focuses leaders on what to do rather than trying to define codes of behaviour or attitude; this makes it adaptable to a huge range of contexts and supports the development of leadership capabilities which are transferrable from one role to the next and from one situation to the next. In turn, this further supports the development of agile, resilient organisations.

Overcoming weaknesses effectively

Working to develop and improve an individual’s weaknesses cannot however be ignored. Chronic procrastination, disorganisation, aggression, stubbornness or dishonesty impact unhelpfully on the ability of others to do their work, and undermine collaboration. Organisations which put up with such behaviours, especially among leaders, usually engender cultures where people are unwilling to go the extra mile, often want to leave, and act in ways which protect their own interests, but damage the organisation and let down customers. And these cultures can shape the way people behave, spreading bad behaviour and creating vicious circles which are hard to break.

This is why leadership development needs to have a holistic, systemic focus on the individuals, the teams, and the organisation as a whole.

The importance of feedback

It is impossible to learn without effective feedback. It is imperative that the impacts of different efforts to improve leadership are monitored: without this there is no way to identify what works, what is useless, and what is positively counter-productive. Yet most organisations do a very poor job of collecting the results of their experiments, let alone analysing them and learning from them so as to improve in the future. Usually the least expensive component of a development intervention, too often, even the most enlightened organizations shy away from dealing with the hard question: has it made a difference?

Edgecumbe and leadership

We are one of the UK’s leading independent leadership consultancies, specializing for over 20 years in leadership assessment and development. Our purpose is to contribute to a thriving society and economy by enhancing the quality of leadership, employee engagement and performance in our client organisations.

Great leadership has the power to transform organisations and we’re passionate about helping people do this.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your business grow and develop, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.