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Organizations Must Commit to Find and Grow Leaders

A case for more organizations to identify and grow leaders from within. How does one ever know their capacities until they’re tested?

A common complaint from senior-level management in many companies is the lack of leadership skills demonstrated by their employees, which they note as:

  • independent thinking
  • creative problem-solving
  • analytical thinking
  • effective communication

When I assisted a Los Angeles-based client with this issue, I began by looking for the future leaders within the company. I was looking for employees who might currently be underutilized, untested, underdeveloped or even unseen.

In most cases, when a company’s leaders perceive a lack of leadership in their employees, there are three potential contributing factors. Understanding these three reasons can help an organization commit to improve their approach to leadership development.

Three Ways to Improve the Way Organizations Grow Leaders

1.  The hiring process

The hiring process includes how a company attracts, qualifies and interviews potential new hires.  Leadership qualities such as those I listed above should be considered in all phases of the hiring process.

Personality surveys such as DISC, Myers-Briggs and others are specifically designed to assess a person’s personality in regard to leadership, sales, management and other roles.  These tests are pretty accurate and can give valuable insight to a person’s capacities, potentials, communicational style, etc.

(Also see my blog about developing a Hiring Rubric.)

2.  The squelch factor

In the case of the LA firm looking for future leaders, why was I, a company outsider, better suited to identify future leaders than current management? It could be attributed to the squelch factor, which is quite common in the workplace.  This is when individuals in the work force are rendered less relevant than they could be to building and growing the company.

This happens in a number of ways and for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes a manager doesn’t provide opportunity for an employee to grow because they don’t think the individual can handle greater levels of responsibility.

But think about it: How does one ever know their capacities until they’re tested? One of my success strategies is ‘Adversity introduces us to ourselves.’ Another word for adversity is a challenge. Sometimes we test people and they fail (and we learn a lot), but sometimes they rise to the challenge (and we learn a lot).

Another reason for the squelch factor? Many managers fail to see how their employees’ capacities have grown over time.  It is not uncommon for people in various types of relationships (parent-child, manager-employee) to see others as who they used to be rather than who they’ve become.  Once the squelch factor has been identified, it can be addressed with good training at the management level.

(Also see my blog on the Immaculate Perception Myth, which discusses how leaders can be blinded to potential talent.)

3.  Mentorship and leadership

It is said that some people are “born leaders.”  Perhaps this is true.  However, most people in leadership positions in this country had to learn their leadership skills and continue to hone them with books, strategic advisors, and leadership forums. For this reason, one of the best investments an organization can make is a simple, informal mentorship program.  In many ways, mentoring has become a lost art in this country.

A good mentorship approach identifies the individual needs of each person and provides direct, person-to-person training with a specific, job-related focus. It is made clear that the purpose of the mentorship program isn’t to provide promises of advancement, but rather the opportunity to grow and improve for the sake of becoming a better person and a more valued (and valuable) employee.

(See my blog on Informal Mentorship Programs.)

Leadership is a highly misunderstood concept in this country.  Far too many people think that it is inextricably related to authority.  This perspective prevents good leadership development for the individuals who aren’t yet in positions of authority.

Organizations would do well to actively develop the potential leadership qualities they deem valuable in their future leaders. A commitment to leadership development from the top must then find itself implemented in different areas of the organization – from hiring, to mentorship, and development programs.

After all, the only thing more expensive than training and developing employees is not training and developing them.

© Joe Caruso and Caruso Leadership, 2017. Reprints available with permission.

Getting a Handle on All the Hate

“Understand that all of your emotions are based in either fear or love.”
– Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #2

“Know that you can’t experience hatred without also experiencing fear.”
-Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #35

When we understand that all of our emotions stem from either fear or love, we can begin to acknowledge how our insecurities and fears determine how we might respond to people or events in our lives. When we feel hate, or respond with hatred, it is always based in fear. This begs the question – what is it that we fear, and why do we fear it?

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The Immaculate Perception Myth Creates a Leadership Vacuum

Many business owners tell me that the biggest challenge they face is a “leadership vacuum” within their organizations.  They usually identify the following problems at two different levels within the organization:

  1. Their senior level managers, while competent overall, are lacking skills in one or more critical areas: knowledge of the business, capacity to lead, or ability to create and/or implement vision and directives.
  2. The mid-level managers perform their duties quite adequately but fail to demonstrate consistent capacities to think strategically, and then communicate those strategic decisions with others.

While it’s true that “you can’t send ducks to eagle school,” it has been my experience that more often than not, the managers that lack a few critical skills can be developed into fine organizational leaders and strategic thinkers. However, the solution isn’t as easy as having them sit through a training course on strategic thinking or leadership. The real solution consists of changing the driving myths of the culture in which these managers operate.

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The Risk of Avoiding Risk

I recently had the honor of addressing 700 Navy attorneys (both civilian and military) on the topic of leadership in a time of change. Immediately before my talk, the Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, addressed the audience on the main context for the event – ‘Gamechangers: Transforming the Present and Future.’

“Don’t avoid risk. You’ll get nothing done. Understand risk and manage risk.”

Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley

It’s difficult to talk about change without bringing up the concept of risk. Why? Because of our natural human tendency, based on the way our minds function, to operate in a sameness pattern. We resist change, which generally means we avoid taking risks. The well-worn pathways of our brain’s neural networks feel as natural as our most comfortable pair of blue jeans. Why change what is comfortable? Read more »

eBook Offered to over 100,000 Navy Military & Civilian Employees

The Power of Losing Control eBook Offered to over 100,000 Navy Military & Civilian Employees

An e-copy of Joe Caruso’s bestselling book, The Power of Losing Control, has been made available to members of the Navy within the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment) domain for professional development.

The eBook is made available through Caruso Leadership to any member of the team of over 100,000 military and civilians who wish to download a complimentary eBook for both their professional and personal development, with a special focus on leadership.  (Acceptance of the book is permissible under the Standards of Ethical Conduct pursuant to a gift exception for information materials.)

The book, subtitled “Finding Strength, Meaning and Happiness in an Out of Control World,” offers leadership lessons through stories, as well as usable tools such as The Four Rules of Engagement, to help improve every interaction with others, with the ultimate goal of creating greater success for individuals and teams alike.

The book has been published in six languages and consistently receives 5-star ratings on Amazon.

More about ASN EI&E

More about Joe Caruso and Caruso Leadership

Learn the New Rules, or Learn the New Game?

When you were a kid, you probably had a few games you cherished as favorites. Chances are your favorite games were the ones you were better at playing, and given the choice, you would prefer to teach someone your game than to learn the new game.

In a lot of ways, we are kids in grown-up clothes. And millions of us in corporate America are facing the same dilemma:

  • stick to the same game?
  • or learn the new game?

Read more »

Joe Caruso Keynotes Training Event for the Navy

Joe Caruso Keynotes Training Event for Department of the Navy, Office of General Counsel

Joe Caruso, author, keynote speaker, and founder of Caruso Leadership, was honored to accept an invitation from the Department of the Navy (DON) Office of General Counsel (OGC) to address a team comprised of more than 750 civilian and uniformed attorneys at their annual training symposium. This team of attorneys provides a full range of legal services to Navy and Marine Corps clients worldwide.

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Cacophony Requires Clarity

I recently visited Lisbon with my wife and a few close friends. It was a wonderful trip; I enjoyed the history, culture, art and architecture, and of course, the food and wine. Those who know me know that no trip would be complete without some time spent on culture and the lessons we can draw from history – especially as it relates to leadership and success. Here, I saw a great example of a powerful lesson: cacophony requires clarity.

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Why Start With the Mind for Effective Leadership

Why start with the mind for effective leadership? The video below captures the essence of Joe Caruso’s work, in less than 5 minutes.

Joe explains why he focuses on the mind at the beginning of the relationship when he approaches problems with clients. “When I hear how the individual and collective mind is processing what this problem means, I am able to bring an objective perspective to an understanding of the problem.”

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