Leadership development tends to focus on behavioural competencies, and how these can be attuned to create more effective leaders. This Idea takes a different approach: look beyond competencies and consider inner experiences as well. Such a holistic approach can help organizations and their leaders utilize a broader repertoire of responses to difficult situations.
Traditionally, research on leadership development has put behavioural competencies under the spotlight; training, coaching, on-the-job experiences and mentoring are all intended to facilitate the development of these behaviours. But are these models too simplistic and incomplete for today’s complex business environment?
In a White Paper published by the Center for Creative Leadership, Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin and Carol Connolly argue that it is time to adopt a broader view, one that opens the door for knowledge from the brain-based sciences and contemplative practices. They propose a multi-dimensional model of leadership called a “Beyond Competencies Model,” which includes the working of leaders’ inner experiences (i.e. physiological, emotional and mental processes) as well as their visible actions.
According to Ruderman, Clerkin and Connolly, helping leaders understand their inner world leads to increased self-awareness, adaptive behaviours and responses, and more effective leadership. Their Beyond Competencies Model is made up of the following three components:
Many organizations already acknowledge that the ‘mind’ is important and that cognitive health matters. According to a Financial Times report from 2012, 25% of US companies now have stress-reduction programs; in addition, many world-renowned companies such as General Mills, Target and Apple, have begun to offer time and pace for contemplative practice, such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, etc. Similarly, Google has sleeping pods for employees to catch up on sleep when needed.
Overall, the message from Ruderman, Clerkin and Connolly is that when looking at leadership development, though the focus should not be shifted entirely from behavioural competencies, it is important for organizations to also expand their gaze to look beyond competencies; this will help to bring many new supportive leadership practices to light. In other words, actively notice and be with what is happening in order to employ a broader repertoire of responses.
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