Leaders must not neglect their own training

Author: PM editorial | Date: 22 Dec 2015

”The best always want to improve their capacity to lead,” says Rob Noble of The Leadership Trust

Leaders must not neglect their own training, even if they think there’s nothing left to learn, according to a recent report from global recruitment giant Hays. And in Asia, that’s a particularly pertinent message as economies mature and larger businesses seek new markets for growth.
Just because someone has reached the top of their profession, this doesn’t mean they’ve come to the end of their learning curve, according to the Hays report. As well as learning new leadership skills, they can consolidate something they feel rusty on or make sure they are keeping up with the latest industry ideas.
Senior managers can always find ways to improve, said Rob Noble, CEO of The Leadership Trust. “Everyone, at whatever stage of their career, however knowledgeable, can benefit from new experiences and techniques. The best leaders always want to improve their capacity to lead.
“Today’s organisations rely heavily on the capacity to respond to change quickly, and that requires the buy-in and engagement of people at all levels, not least the senior team.
“Open programmes for senior leaders, attending courses with people from other organisations, also have their own benefits where common issues may be exposed and addressed among a mixed peer group.”
Soft power is a term often associated with international relations between countries and world leaders but it’s equally important in the workplace, said Noble. The ability to engage with and encourage your staff to do something, rather than coerce or order them, makes personal leadership and communication skills crucial.
“Soft power has never been more important,” said Noble. “As Generation Y rises through the ranks, appealing to the leadership and corporate expectations of this generation is key.
“By implementing soft power to shape a team or individual, (including those in junior positions), leaders are able to engage with those who feel less comfortable with a hierarchical culture.”
At the recent Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) conference, Vinay Hebbar, of Harvard Business Publishing, expanded on this theme when he told the audience: “Leaders need to actively look to learn new approaches and skills, and maintain a curious and learning-oriented mindset.”
Hebbar also pointed to the importance of adaptability: “According to the 2014 Best Companies for Leaders survey, 60 per cent of CEOs believe adaptability to change is the top skill needed for leadership. It means dealing effectively with challenges, managing stress, time and energy, and recognising that past approaches may not work in current circumstances.”