What’s in Your Leadership Bucket?

By Laura Huckabee-Jennings, CEO 


bucketheadOur clients often ask us to help them develop leaders and then, in the next breath, they will tell us about a group of newly-promoted supervisors who need to learn how to make the transition from peer to supervisor.

While training and development are complementary activities, and both have value, they are not the same. Training works best when your people do not have knowledge or experience in an area, and they need to be taught how and why they should adopt a new behavior or framework, and to get some first practice in that behavior. Perfect, in other words, for that first-time supervisor or anyone taking on a new role that requires new behaviors. We think of this as filling up a person’s leadership bucket with tools, behaviors and techniques to manage themselves, their time, other people, conversations, etc. It is enormously useful and necessary, and also limited. Once your bucket is full, training and adopting new behaviors is less effective.     [clickToTweet tweet=”What’s in Your Leadership Bucket? #leadership via @leadfearlessly” quote=”Training and Development are complementary; both have value, but they’re not the same.”]

For example, one client was goal-driven to the point of being abrasive. He had experienced great success in achieving many work goals, and felt that his approach was successful, efficient and the right way to do work. We helped him identify specific behaviors that were creating unnecessary friction in the organization, and change those behaviors. For a while, this worked for him. But over time, he tended to revert to what he thought was ultimately the “right” ways to do things. He knew how to behave differently, and that it was helpful to other people, but his mental model still centered around his way of doing things and that other people “needed to toughen up.” This is where behavior-based training falls down.

Leadership Development, on the other hand, is all about shifting the mindset of a person to grow their bucket to hold new tools and new thoughts about leadership. Our client with the abrasive approach changed his approach only once he truly understood and embraced the fact that there is more than one “right” way to approach things, and that he needed positive collaborative relationships to be successful. It only happened when he saw negative consequences for his approach, both at work and at home, and he really decided to focus on changing his thought patterns and incorporate relationships into his personal model of success.

This kind of change is hard because it means that to grow our leadership bucket, we have to abandon some of the thinking that we believe has made us successful so far. It’s scary and that fear can keep us stuck and unable to grow as leaders.

Where are you truly working on developing yourself and your leaders?  Do you really need training or mentoring, or are you ready to commit to developing leaders through Leadership Development?