A Leadership Culture is not a simple culture to create. It requires deliberate leadership development. It requires a time investment in the growth of your people. It requires investing in your own personal growth.
The very first place to begin in developing a leadership culture is with yourself. As a leader of an organization, you must be continually growing. You must be the example to follow. You can not expect your people to grow as leaders, if you are not just as willing to grow. When they see you raising your own leadership effectiveness, they will be more willing to buy in to the their own leadership growth.
The next step is screening for leaders. Hiring people just because they are experts in their field is not enough. Experts are easy to find. It is the strength of character that must be found through a process of detailed scrutiny. Too often people are hired because of their experiences and skills, but their morals and values are not completely explored. This is where organizations find themselves, unintentionally, building a culture of followers, because leadership is born out of our strength of character, not our expertise. Knowledge and skill are additional attributes to character, not the inverse. For a culture to be aligned for leadership growth, there must be an alignment in morals, core values, and overall character.
Next is the establishment of a common language and foundation around leadership. My Marine Corps has this with their 14 Leadership Traits and 11 Leadership Principles. There are no report cards or book tests to grade the Marines on how well they have grasped the leadership traits and principles. The grades are obvious in the performance of accomplishing the Marines Corps' Leadership Objectives of Mission Accomplishment and Marine Welfare.
When an organization establishes their leadership language and foundation, they are then prepared to build a Leadership Culture on top of that foundation. There are common ideas around the subject of leadership, as well as a common vision and expectations of what effective leadership is to look like.
Now that you have created a common language and foundation, it is time to mentor and train to the standards, principles, and traits that you expect your leaders to exude. This is where the first step of screening will pay dividends. Those people you already have screened and established common values with are now ready to be developed into leaders. Through training on the organization's common language and foundation, an ongoing conversation around leadership can occur. It becomes an environment conducive to growth. All levels of the organization are invested in developing leaders through mentoring and training. It becomes a cultural focus. You are now beginning to see the birth of a Leadership Culture. This is just the beginning. Your organization is about to achieve lift off in regards to the possibilities it is about to realize.
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