Over the years and especially of late, I have met and worked with a lot of up-and-coming passionate leaders who have wanted to do great things for their organization, but limitations in their skill set prevented them from effectively implementing organizational change (or minimized their ability to do so). In most cases they had the potential and charisma to be great leaders, but they weren’t fully utilizing their strengths. For example, their self-awareness skills were low. They were not routinely making mindful or authentic decisions, or they were not regulating their emotional intelligence. In some cases, the individual’s passion was high but communication skills were ineffective. Some were being over looked for promotions because their interview skills were weak and not on point. Additionally, there is more pressure exerted on employees to lead. The proposed Leadership Awareness and Development Program Instructional Guide provides a structured yet flexible approach that can be used year after year for nurturing and developing an individual’s leadership competencies.
The purpose of this instructional guidebook is to provide the tools necessary for developing, operating, and sustaining a basic curriculum. Assessment tools will be discussed as well so that you can continually evaluate and strengthen your program. The guidebook can be used to identify future leaders’ strengths so that they can more effectively use them in making decisions. Consequently, the proposed program focuses on the basic concepts of leadership and provides participants with an opportunity to learn more about their leadership skills and talents. Specific sessions are focused on leadership, individual self-assessments, critical thinking, communications, emotional intelligence, presence (including authenticity), mindfulness, stress, conflict, negotiations, financial management and work planning, change management, program evaluation, rewards, and followership. The goal is that by the end of the program, each participant will have a self-development plan with accountability measures that will allow for each individual to further build upon personal professional competencies. In addition, individuals will understand how their leadership styles complement their organization’s values, culture, mission, and vision, and how their skills can be utilized to accomplish the overall program tenets.
It is well documented in the literature that a leadership program can provide the following organizational and individual benefits:
• increased morale, productivity, and retention
• stronger strategic vision and purpose
• a coaching/mentoring culture
• enhanced team leadership skills and a network of exceptional leaders
• stronger organizational bonds and bridges chain gaps
• enhanced ability to respond to change
• increased pool of promotable employees
• resilience that can lead to less stress and more certainty and predictability
• greater internal strengths
• positive impact on the bottom line
• a personalized approach for learning in a safe environment
o hands-on approach with extensive coaching and feedback
o promotes peer learning and teamwork
• boosts to morale and productivity
• a wider world of career possibilities
This instructional guide is unique and timely for the following reasons:
• There are few instructional guides in existence and none published within the last few years (that I have found) that comprehensively cover the topics addressed in the proposed guide.
• It provides practical applications and exercises for building a leadership awareness and development program plan.
• It is based on what I have learned in previous leadership development courses that I have taken throughout my twenty-five-plus-year career; what I have learned over my lifetime; what I have expected from my leaders; and insights I have gained by talking with other senior leaders inside and outside of my organization.
• It is similar to a program developed for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah district, which was implemented and has been refined here based on participants’ input and my personal reflection following completion of the program.
• It implements strategic and succession plans.
• It was built as a yearlong in-house course so that participants can reflect on what they’ve learned over the program year.
• It is based on real and direct experience, supplemented with the latest focused literature and book references to support different lesson plans and exercises—all identified in a detailed annotated agenda.
• It includes example policy and philosophy statements; example slide materials that can be used to present the program to upper management for approval; and an annotated agenda.
• It offers opportunities for coaching, peer-sharing, journaling, interviewing, briefing, facilitating, and presenting.
• It encourages participants to engage in specialized sessions on values, mission, vision, and other organizational tenets; individual and organizational competencies; blind spots; communications; emotional intelligence; workforce/work planning; and change management.
• It includes a soft and technical competency gap/needs assessment.
• It establishes a strength baseline for participants and allows an organization’s specialized courses to be introduced in the program. Participants can take specialized courses based on needs identified in the basic course.
• It includes a self-development plan that can be updated annually to ensure career development that promotes individual and program needs.
• It was developed to be practicable and reasonably inexpensive to implement.
The expectation is that the course materials and mentors/coaches will help each individual build a self-development plan that will be a living document. The plan will be based on the values, mission, vision, and goals of the organization as well as the professional needs of the individual and will be reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Additionally, it is expected that all participants will be more productive than they currently are and carry more responsibilities in the organization.
This program can help to establish the foundation and set the framework for developing future organizational leaders—the best of the best—and ensure that mindful decisions move us forward together in peace and as one universally united body.