Transforming your line managers from doers to leaders

by Miklos Bolza26 Feb 2016
One of the most important steps in grooming leadership talent within any organisation is getting line managers to “stick their heads above their own silo,” Gary Nelson, founder and chairman of NBO Group and former head of IBM in Asia, told HRD. This involves changing them from being a mere doer to a facilitator or leader.
“Once they start to evolve to a facilitator, they start to show courage, to show their emotional sensitivity to others, particularly as they start to interact across silos with people of different behavioural characteristics and educational backgrounds,” he said.
It is essential that upcoming leaders see the need to work in teams and build up their own self-awareness. Passing through this step involves developing:
  • Active listening skills
  • The ability to question and clarify
  • The ability to diagnose and assess risk
“You see them mature in the facilitation process and they get more responsibility, and that is how they become identified as cross-silo talent and evolve in ways that usually occur through mentoring and coaching of the talent pool,” Nelson said.
A softer approach

Although the hard skills have been the main focus of leadership development in the past, soft skills are now coming into the forefront amongst line managers and HR.
“The hard skills are the easy part; they can be picked up more naturally and quickly,” Roland B Smith, Asia-Pacific vice president and managing director of the Center for Creative Leadership, told HRD.
“It’s the soft skills that take a bit more time to impart. For example, the managing of people in a way that is both effective yet welcoming – this emotional quotient part requires a lot more guidance, training and development.”
Firms are now becoming more sophisticated in developing these soft skills, going beyond DISC or MBTI – tests which simply box people into groups – and onto realising that leaders are people that require all these facilitation skills.
“So, yes I know myself and I know my tendencies, but now I know my strengths and weaknesses, how do I operate with integrity without trying to be something that I’m not? And, knowing I have the hard skills, how do I engage with others across the silo?” Smith said.

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