More and more people are called upon to demonstrate leadership in corporate culture. It might surprise some people that current thought leadership articles support the leadership process theory, which posits the idea that leaders are made and not necessarily born with natural leadership skills. Everyone knows someone who is a natural leader, but defining leadership as a process means that leadership skills can be developed to align with any company’s goals.
The Process Based Leadership Model
The process based leadership model uses a highly structured approach for developing leadership, choosing candidates for succession and educating employees about the company’s core values. Companies have many training programs and business processes, and leadership is a process that just as demanding as other business applications. Each company can make adjustments in the leadership qualities that it wants to cultivate, but some common choices in today’s business environment include these basics of leadership development:
- Recognition that leadership in business is different than leadership in other areas and that each team member needs to carry his or her weight
- The development of future leaders who can encourage others to identify with common business goals
- Fostering greater self-awareness as an integral part of lifelong personal development
- Demonstrating a willingness to define and enforce behavioral expectations
- Engaging everyone to meet the company’s targeted outcomes and to manage their time as a valuable company resource
- Fostering transparency that shows company leaders following the same rules as lower level employees
- Developing leaders who pay attention to the basics of accountability, ethics, approachability and empathy for special situations and challenges that team members face
Flexibility for Change and Transition
The leadership process theory focuses on the Social Change Model of Leadership and other similar approaches, such as Transformational Leadership, Reciprocal Theory and Relational Leadership models. These styles of leadership are flexible, but they share a common goal – to do the best possible job to promote a particular interest. That might be social change, improving the world through business technology or promoting the interests of a particular company, group or the human race.
As technology speeds business processes, a more agile and flexible type of leadership is needed to adapt to mission-related changes, respond to competitor efforts and capitalize on time-sensitive opportunities. Some of the qualities that can be developed in leaders using the tenets of leadership process theory include:
- Focusing on rank-and-file employee needs and expecting the staff to do the same with company initiatives
- Putting aside personal interests in favor of the larger picture, such as gaining career advancement rather than settle for a temporary bonus
- Empowering and motivating others by making personal concessions
- Learning how to align strategic goals with daily accomplishments
- Fostering a mentor relationship with team members to educate them on company culture, goals, structure, resources and grievance procedures
- Promoting change management as an essential skill in today’s business environment
- Developing ways to monitor and improve staff member performances
- Estavisinng clear methods for making suggestions,improving core business processes and increasing team and individual efficiency
- Providing different resources for training employees in new technologies and new skills, such as training videos, mentorships, web portals, cross-training programs, succession raining, etc.
Can Anyone Be Trained to Lead?
Now this is maybe the one million dollar question. Leadership is often compromised by leaders with commitments to other causes that only tangentially intersect with a company’s best interests. Natural leaders often have lots of charm and charisma, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do well in promoting the company line. Some talented employees resent charismatic people who gain immediate preference for filling leadership positions.
An old adage of employers comes to mind, and it applies to leadership development. Many employers prefer to hire inexperienced people whom they can train to meet the company’s needs. Employers often prefer to hire people so that they don’t have to break their bad habits.
Process based leadership presupposes that anyone can be trained to a leadership position. There may be difficulties, but it’s always difficult to manage people. Today’s corporate culture requires leaders at all levels, including team managers, group managers, project managers and their supervisors. Few people are born as natural leaders, so they should be trained in the company’s leadership guidelines.
A leader without charisma can still function efficiently by following strict guidelines and approaching problems with a can-do attitude. Those without integrity will eventually be weeded out in the same ways that charismatic leaders fall. Those with lesser intelligence can often compensate with a strong work ethic, personal empathy and a stubborn determination to get the job done. The work might be a little slower, but the job gets done.
Process based management encourages better communications and creates a culture where anyone can aspire to a leadership position. A company culture of agility, transparency and flexibility builds loyalty and trust. Anyone can work hard and advance accordingly because the training methodology promotes consistent leadership qualities.
Despite the problems inherent in developing leaders in-house, the potential benefits for companies can be extraordinary. These include fostering greater employee loyalty, removing the stigma of not being considered leadership material and filling leadership positions in-house so that companies can control training, handle change management more adroitly and meet company-specific leadership needs.