leadership development


  • Assess

    Unlock assumptions


  • Coach

    Choose direction


  • Train

    Drive forward

What is ACT's philosophy?

W e exist to help navigate leaders through complex change initiatives. Through a unique blend of assessments, coaching, facilitated workshops and consulting, we will work with you to make successful change happen. Our expertise is in the design and delivery of Leadership Development programs aligned to real change initiatives. We create a safe space where leaders can experiment, test and fail in a “parallel universe”, before going public with major decisions. We will work with you to minimize the impact on business performance.

ACT Leadership approach

Prior to a large change program, it’s good to check the pulse of the organization. The “A” in ACT stands for Assessments, an objective view of the current culture of the organization and the leadership team. This will help determine the change management strategy. Do the employees buy into the company purpose? If the answer to this is “no”, what do you do, coerce them into it? Rarely does this work. Using the example of the best-seller “Switch”, leaders need to focus on the Rider (the rational mind) and the Elephant (the heart). How do you do this?

At ACT Leadership, we believe coaching to be one effective method for engaging staff at a deeper level. By listening to their frustrations, showing that the leadership team actually cares, so they are much more likely to align themselves to change.

Alignment to strategy

On an individual level, we’ll create the safe space for leaders to surface limiting beliefs and develop personal development strategies. We will explore vital concepts such as Trust, Communication and Critical Thinking. We will challenge you as to why organization exists? If your company disappeared tonight, how different would the world be tomorrow? How do you embed that sense of organizational purpose to your employees? We believe this should be at the heart of strategy. It should give direction to every part of the firm, from the corporate office to the loading dock. It should define the nature of the work that must be done, who we are and what makes us different.We do not dismiss clearly defined strategic goals, detailed planning and KPI’s to support them. However, how often does this end up being the holy grail, a strategy brilliantly conceived, carefully implemented then valiantly defended through time. It encourages managers to see their strategies as set in stone and when troubles invariably arise, go into defensive, protecting mode. The reality is that like everything in the universe, we evolve. Strategies, even purpose can change over time.

Our approach to learning and change requires all facets of the mind and the heart. Our logo illustrates this. It requires logic and analysis to be suspended, not easy for many of us. In the bestseller “Switch”, the Authors talk about effective change requiring both the “Rider” and the “Elephant”, the mind and the heart, reason and emotion. For leaders to be able to do this, they need a deep understanding of themselves and their employees.

What is ACT's definition of leadership?

There are many definitions of leadership. In its simplest context, the most concise definition is as follows:

1. Leaders create a vision. They have a picture of the future they can describe so others can see it. The vision may have no precise goals or numbers, but it does describe a future reality. It may be difficult to achieve, but not impossible.

2. Leaders build alignment. They energize people to commit to the vision and articulate how to achieve it. Leaders may achieve alignment through a variety of different ways such as  rousing speeches, charisma, personal loyalty and rational arguments.

3. Leaders deploy. They take finite resources and determine how to achieve their visions. These deployment decisions form the strategic roadmap.

Once leadership is translated into creating vision, building alignment and effecting deployment, it becomes tangible and can be developed.

If one agrees that leadership can be learned, the next question is how? 

Can leadership be learned?

L eadership is a hot topic. We extol our favorite leaders and demonize those who have fallen from grace. When we talk about leadership we often speak of vision and transforming an organization from failure to success. We speak of ethics and values. We describe leadership in terms of character, using such words as courage and heroism. Other times, we speak of exemplary personal behavior. And some view leadership as a style, comparing different approaches and their effect.

With the many ways of describing leadership, how do we answer the question, “Can leaders be developed?” The next question is even more difficult: “If leadership can be developed, how do we do it?” Both challenge Leaders competence, courage and strength.

Can leaders be developed? The answer is resoundingly yes and no. Yes for competencies and limiting assumptions, no for inherent capabilities. This short article explores both and highlights the organizations responsibility in identifying and then grooming tomorrow’s leaders.

WHAT WE CAN DEVELOP

Beliefs and Assumptions

By the time we reach maturity, we have developed personal values, ethics and character traits. Some of these traits may have been genetically influenced. But a wealth of other inputs have also shaped our value systems. Families, culture, religion, schooling and peers have contributed to the value system of our personality. Our sense of right and wrong, of fairness and justice, of honesty and integrity is deeply rooted and difficult, however NOT IMPOSSIBLE to change. Working with a good coach will reveal what these beliefs and underlying assumptions are and the impact that they have on your life and work performance. If you hold a belief “I am no good at presenting or my input is not valued” then you will display behaviors that limit your personal growth and leadership effectiveness. Changing these beliefs is where personal transformation takes place.

In the ACT-leadership program, we focus on these during the Assessment and Coaching phase.

Competencies 

Leadership is about doing three things. First, leaders create a vision. They have a picture of the future they can describe so others can see it. The vision may have no precise goals or numbers, but it does describe a future reality. It may be difficult to achieve, but not impossible. There may not be a precise plan, but there is a road map.

Second, leaders build alignment. They energize people to commit to the vision and articulate how to achieve it. Leaders may achieve alignment through rousing speeches, charisma, personal loyalty, rational argument, etc. It is not how leaders create alignment but that they do create it.

The third element of leadership is deployment. Leaders take finite resources and determine how to achieve their visions. These deployment decisions form the strategic direction.

Once leadership is translated into creating vision, building alignment and effecting deployment, it becomes tangible and can be developed.

WHAT WE CANNOT DEVELOP

We cannot change our DNA. We are all blessed with unique inherent capabilities that have potential and limitations. We do not all have the capability to develop the scientific genius of Einstein. Or the artistic capabilities of Michelangelo. Or the psychomotor genius of Michael Jordan. We can certainly study, practice and improve our skills. But at some point we reach the limits of our potential.

This is true regarding leadership skills. Although we can learn, practice and develop our leadership skills, we also have inherent human limitations. Some of us are more intuitive in how we see the world (although we would argue intuition can be developed). That makes vision development easier. Some of us are inherently extroverts. That makes communications and building alignment easier. Leadership, like all other skills, can only be developed to the limit of our potential.

The book “Switch”, the Authors talk about people having a “Fixed” or “Growth” mindset. If you are someone with the former, you believe that your capabilities are set at birth, that you cannot change. You are either good at Maths or not. Alternatively if you have a growth mindset, you believe in stretching yourself, taking risks, accepting feedback, and taking the long-term view.

Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan (2010-02-10). Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (p. 165). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY

Managers can develop leadership talent in five ways:

  1. Select leaders based on the leadership attributes above, not just functional competence or experience.
  2. Match leader competencies and preferences with role.
  3. Provide leader with a coach for personal and professional development as well as job performance.
  4. Provide formal leadership development training  for all aspects of leadership that can be developed.
  5. Move fast on leaders not performing, especially if they are not willing to change.

Leadership is the combination of character, competence, and performance. Select for character. Develop for competence. Set high standards and reward for performance. Put them together for a winning combination that leads to success.

It is the responsibility of the organization (not ACT-leadership) to identify the emerging talent that should be groomed as a leader of tomorrow.

What is the target Audience?

Anyone that your organization has identified as future Leadership potential, or currently in a leadership role. Most importantly, leaders that are hungry for personal growth, prepared to look inside themselves and make tough choices.

Those with primary responsibility for:

• Articulating the organization’s overarching direction (including purpose, vision of the preferred future, strategies for accomplishing purpose and vision, organizational goals, key metrics, values, etc.)
• Designing and evolving the organizational system (including new structures, policies, etc)
• Bridging the communication gap between senior leadership and the front line

How is this different to other Leadership Programs?

Some of the ACT differentiators:

Delivery Style, incorporating all aspects of learning: reflective, active, group and individual. Fusing learning with case studies of real business problems you are currently facing.

Delivery Content and Approach, focusing on the “Whole Mind” – Cognitive skills such as Decision-making and Critical thinking (“Left Brain”), Creativity and Innovation (“Right Brain”) and Emotional intelligence  (“Limbic Brain”)

Unique Leadership Model, starting with an introspective look at beliefs, assumptions and purpose of leaders and the organization, to how you

Is your organization ready? Some early considerations...

Not every organization is ready to implement a leadership development program. There needs to be a reasonable degree of stability and a strong culture of employee development. Below are some questions to consider when thinking about implementing such a program:

DESIGN PHASE: 

  • What attributes are you looking for in your leadership team?
  • Do you currently have a competency model? Would you like to adopt the Leadership Circle 360 competencies?
  • What competencies are most important to you?
  • Which leaders would you include in the ACT leadership program?
  • Who will sponsor the program? Do you have the budget?
  • What timeframe are you looking to roll this out?
  • Will you allow leaders time to attend the course?
ASSESS PHASE:
  • Which assessments do you want your leaders to take? (Leader, Manager, Culture?)
  • Do you currently conduct 36o Assessments? If so, which tool?

COACHING PHASE 

  • Are you looking to train coaches in-house?
  • Are you looking to train your coaches internally?
  • What are the organizational values and purpose that you are trying to align to?

TRAINING PHASE

  • Do you want to adopt the standard ACT curriculum? If not, what areas are most important to you?
  • Do you want to align the training to real business scenarios?

Can the training be adapted to the context of our industry and specific business challenges we currently have?

Absolutely. We will work with you to design a case study that is based on a real change initiative that you are implementing. Running a leadership program alongside a real, current business change initiative will dramatically increase the chances of successful implementation. We have experience in working across industries, including Automotive, Telecoms, US Federal government, Healthcare, Distribution, Retail, Manufacturing and Financial Services.

Click here to see our learning methodology:

The ACT methodology is outlined below.

ACT training methodology