• Tony Richards

9 Keys To A Leadership Development Company Culture


By design, every human being has the capacity, potential and raw material to become a leader. They just need the right company culture.

Remember, you don’t need title and position to lead and it’s a tragedy most of the people living on the Earth today will bury the leader trapped within them in the grave of a follower. Many of us are products of our environment, lacking the will and courage to change, to develop and maximize our potential and become who we are destined and born to be. That’s why leadership development inside organizations is so vitally important. Not only do our organizations have a chance to develop our future leaders but also to produce better human beings for our communities.

This is a real challenge for business leaders because becoming a true results-oriented leader is not easy. Every human being is born to lead but must develop themselves to become a leader, just as a person may be born a male but must go through development to become a man (the same applies to females becoming women). Being a leader is not being a manager. Being a leader is not being a boss. Regardless of title, you cannot be a leader without followers. A person, who has subordinates but no followers, is not a leader. A leader is one who leads others to leadership. A leader leads themselves first and by so doing, inspires others to follow them into leadership.

A leader leads themselves first and by so doing, inspires others to follow them into leadership.

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Today, organizational leaders know intuitively they need to create an environment, which produces leaders, but they are sometimes confused on the strategy and tactics of doing so. Today, I will lay out a few points business leaders should consider when building a leadership development-oriented company culture. Great companies are developed from the inside out not the other way around. While customers are ultimately important, customers will receive treatment and service based on what is already present inside the company. Improving the inside automatically improves the outside.

The Nine Keys:

  1. Vision: It’s the air for the culture. It’s the air leaders breathe. It’s the atmosphere that ensures leaders survival. It’s the WHY and the WHERE. We must always provide a vision that both sustains and needs leaders.

  2. A Plan: While we cannot know every twist and turn along the road, we must have a general direction, a plan for developing leaders. We have to invest time and energy thinking through the plan and understanding it intimately.

  3. Opportunity: Those we develop cannot sit idly by. We must provide them with genuine opportunities to use their training. We must delegate responsibilities to them, let them learn on the job, trust them, and make ourselves available for on going guidance.

  4. Recognition: In our enthusiasm to develop good leaders, we cannot forget to balance feedback with recognition. We can’t let our high standards and expectations stand in the way of positive comments. There’s nothing that helps a developing leader to thrive more than sincere praise and guidance for getting better through growth. We must let people know how we feel about them. This also must be balanced publicly and privately.

  5. Time: Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to leadership development. It’s one of the reasons I love it. Everyone can do it, but few choose to do it, because it takes long-term courage, risk and commitment, and at the same time, there is nothing more rewarding in every area of a person’s life. The fact is, it requires a place in your life and organization as a priority before other busy work. Everything gets better when your people get better.

  6. Gratitude: We should be grateful for the opportunity to develop others and for the trust they have given us to grow them and their potential. Their future vision is under our current supervision.

  7. Self-Development: To develop other leaders, we must continue growing ourselves. We should have our own personal development plan. In order to be teachers, we must be willing to be taught by those who have been sent into our lives for that purpose.

  8. It’s Not A Popularity Contest: We all have our favorite teachers, but often those who may not be our favorites have the most relevant message for our lives. I don’t know how many stories I have heard from former Norm Stewart players about how much they disliked his coaching & discipline. It wasn’t until later they truly began to value what he did for them in the process.

  9. Freedom To Go: Every parent knows that someday our children will leave home. There is an appropriate time to release leaders we have developed either to another area of the company or outside the company altogether. That doesn’t mean the relationship ends, it just changes.

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