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Leadership Development Training: Skip the 100,000 Books on Amazon

By Robert M. Burnside

Every single organization is trying to improve their leadership capabilities. Even the smallest organizations feel the pressure to be better at leadership. But where should we start? Leadership books might be a good place, but a quick search for them on Amazon returns over 100,000 results and highlights one of the biggest problems with leadership development; there are thousands of competing opinions on how to be a great leader and each opinion is the one and only right one!

Most books on leadership have titles like “(Adjective) Leadership by So and So, Semi-famous Person” and consist of one person’s opinion on what you, and everybody else should do. Or they focus on a kind of behavior or style (Lead with Confidence), or a skill (Top 5 Skills of Highly Brilliant Leaders!), or a set of stories about how this style of leadership changed the world. Maybe you gave up at that point? Who could blame you? One hundred thousand ways to do things adds up to nothing in the end.

CCL®, The Center for Creative Leadership, one of the top ten leadership development institutions in the world, has found an elegant solution: don’t look at how to be a leader. Instead, look first at the outcomes that you want to see within your team or organization, determine what has helped create those outcomes, and use the insights to develop leadership. CCL has found that leadership is a collaborative activity––no one person’s actions dictate the results. It is the overall interactions that create the outcomes––and the outcomes are universal, across all cultures and organizations. The outcomes are easy to understand––we’ve all experienced them. Effective leadership results in shared Direction, Alignment and Commitment (DAC) within the organization. Their research found that higher levels of shared Direction, Alignment and Commitment correlate with higher levels of positive organizational outcomes.

So when you are thinking about improving leadership in your organization, skip the 100,000 books on Amazon. Instead, review the levels of shared Direction, Alignment, and Commitment in your organization; what are people doing currently that helps DAC increase? What are people doing that tends to block DAC? With this, you’re on your way to truly improving leadership––yours and the organization’s––by understanding how interactions help or harm the outcomes you are seeking.

Want to learn more about DAC? Take a look at this on-demand webinar on Making Leadership Happen, at Scale: Combining Collaborative Approaches to Leadership with Emerging Digital Learning Tools.

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