developing leaders

I’d love to share some insights from Damian Vaughn PhD, the Chief Programs Officer at BetterUp, an organization that is making coaching more accessible to middle managers and individual contributors, and an organization I am proud to coach for.

Core to effectively developing leaders in the workplace today:

Development must be personalized and happen in the flow of work. Each one of us has different strengths and challenges, and our readiness for change varies. Learning must start where we are and be applied in the context of our individual lives. We learn best through our unique daily challenges and experiences, versus learning in a classroom and translating it to real life afterwards.

Change is a process that needs time and practice. Science shows that lasting change is a process that involves multiple stages of development. First we learn about—and become more aware of—ourselves. Then we must practice new skills over and over for them to become habits and part of who we are. Given that a new behavior takes about 66 days to become automatic, it could take months for more complex behaviors to stick.

Learning must be bite-size. Instead of trying to tackle multiple skills at once, people need to focus on learning one new behavior at a time. Researchers have found that people who tried to accomplish multiple behaviors were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single behavior.

Growth happens by developing the whole person. There is no leadership development without self-development. The effectiveness of a leader is only as strong as their growth as a person. Leaders today need a combination of strong soft skills and technical capabilities in order to be effective. Developing skills such as resiliency, a growth mindset, communication, and empathy will help leaders better plan, coach teams, and flex when conditions change.

Coaching and accountability accelerate development. Science shows that the support of one-to-one coaching helps to create lasting behavior change—especially in helping people define personalized goals and stay accountable to them. Hundreds of studies across a broad range of areas show that people are 2–3 times more likely to stick with new behaviors if they make a specific plan for when, where, and how they will perform the behavior. A coach is an expert in developing personalized plans and keeping people accountable for the repetition and practice required for lasting behavior change.

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