Michael Shields is director of transportation and auxiliary services at Salem-Keizer Public Schools in Salem, Ore. He is also a member of SBF’s editorial advisory board.
A recent white paper from the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C., indicates that leadership development cannot start too early.
Stephen Covey endorsed the “Leader in Me” program for teaching leadership development in elementary and high schools. It’s never too early!
The “Leader in Me” program is proving successful in several learning institutions in the U.S. At present, elementary schools in the Mukilteo (Wash.) School District are teaching leadership principles as early as the fifth grade.
Teams are a mixture of skills, expertise, professionalism, motivation, initiative and enthusiasm. The challenge for leadership is to meld these characteristics into a smooth-operating force. As outlined above, there are several key leadership elements required to develop people not only for the present, but also — and more importantly — for future growth and sustainability.
Here are some of the more important elements of leadership development:
1. Create an organizational or team vision toward which objectives and goals are directed. A team can have exceptional skills and expertise, but without a vision, they will never perform to higher levels of achievement.
2. Empower other leaders to mentor, counsel and teach new and younger team members. No organization excels with only one leader. It takes a team of leaders with the same vision and ideals to form the complete team. These leaders need to be empowered to be proactive in their realm of authority to mentor and teach.
3. Recognize and affirm superior or outstanding performances. Everyone needs affirmation about their contribution to the organization. It builds confidence, it enhances self-esteem and it motivates to further success.
4. Motivate with action-based encouragement — both positive and negative. Overlooking minor performance errors sends the wrong message. Leaders need to be action oriented to provide encouragement and mentoring at the time of the behavior, especially when corrective action is necessary for optimum performance.
5. Model high moral and ethical standards. Leaders must “walk the talk” to build trust and respect. Organizational legacy is affirmed by maintaining morally and ethically acceptable standards of behavior.
David McCuistion of Vanguard Organizational Leadership is a retired naval officer. His 29-year naval career included several leadership and management positions as well as instructing courses in leadership, team building and goal setting.
6. Teach leadership skills and practices, and empower others to do so also. Every organization must be a “learning organization,” which includes five phases of growth:
(even with non-sports entities),
that ensures clarity of instruction and understanding that is essential for continual and sustainable growth,
• and, lastly, release
, which empowers everyone to perform without having to ask for permission to proceed.
Continual leadership development is crucial to building team legacy and long-term, sustainable success. Leaders must empower other leaders with focused, from-the-heart leadership development.