August 21, 2013
The importance of nurturing leadership talent
Today we have the pleasure of introducing one of the Leading & Developing High performance practitioners Alison Kinloch. Alison coaches executives going through career transition due to promotion, redundancy or career redirection. She also works with young people, giving career guidance to graduates and coaching to young professionals. She uses both Insights and Leading & Developing High Performance as an integral part of her work. This is a quite personal take on the development of leadership talent and how it can easily be crushed by not recognising the potential in an individual.
‘I had the pleasure recently of getting to know my nephew Laurence better, after years of sporadic contact and the inevitable ‘Gosh, how you’ve grown!’ remark. But this time it was not as the child of my brother but as the young man he had become.
Even better, to hear his thoughts about the mature man he would become. It was immensely powerful to hear him talk about his vision for his future and I was fascinated and impressed that his goals were not about material gain but about personal development.
He was happy to talk about his experience to date and it was not altogether a happy story. He had already had a couple of jobs in aerospace manufacturing where his leadership talent was very soon evident. He quickly grasped what had to be achieved and, with his dominant Fiery Red energy, set about out-performing all his colleagues.
Spotting better and more efficient ways of working he told his manager what he needed to do to achieve better results. Not unnaturally, but much to his surprise and frustration, his manager dismissed his ideas and his colleagues resented him. Relationships all round deteriorated at about the same rate as Laurence’s patience and interest in the job.
As the story unfolded it provided a perfect case study for leadership development and I was struck by the fact that here we had a blank canvas, and yet not blank at all because we already had his personality and his (albeit limited) experience to date. Understanding motivation was a key factor in the anecdote he had told me.
Laurence’s motivation was to achieve and exceed his targets, develop his skills and grow, and he gained even greater satisfaction from devising better and more efficient ways of working. And yet his efforts were dismissed, his energy quashed and his pride in achievement resented.
His colleagues were motivated by security, stability and work/life balance, his manager it appeared similarly, but valuing his authority and status as manager. This was obviously more important to him than developing a high performing team.
We talked about how he might have dealt differently with the situation to achieve a better result. Accessing his (admittedly meagre) green energy and using his abundant yellow energy he could have listened to his colleagues to understand them better and gained their buy-in by presenting his ideas in the guise of making their lives easier.
He could have involved his boss, allowing him to take credit for the ideas rather than appearing to undermine him. Laurence told me how he wished his boss had behaved; recognising his leadership talents and ability, encouraging him and giving him greater challenge and development opportunities. I thought how vitally important that challenge is to any team member, but particularly to a young person starting out on their career – the excitement, the energy, the hunger to learn and grow. Such potential, and how often wasted through lack of challenge and support!
Laurence has now joined his father’s firm and is benefiting from my brother’s not inconsiderable management ability. He has asked me to do an Insights Profile for Laurence and this is what has given me the wonderful opportunity to get to know him better.
Now, armed with the understanding of his personality type and the lessons learnt from his experience he is enthusiastic about applying this knowledge to grow his leadership talent and achieve. ‘The Self Directing Professional’ provides the perfect guidance and as he is now managing a small team he has the opportunity to apply the theory and see for himself the results of Leading and Developing High Performance.’