For the last few decades leadership development has used a linear approach. For example, communication skills training might involve breaking down the key actions of the skill, showing examples of strong communication, practicing key steps of the skill, and getting coaching or feedback.
Linear training is effective and will often help a motivated learner get better. This sort of training is usually aimed at helping leaders improve from bad or OK to better or maybe even somewhat above average. Zenger Folkman’s research on over 35,000 managers working to strengthen their leadership shows that linear training doesn’t help a leader rated as good or average become a great or extraordinary communicator.
About 12 years ago, Joe Folkman dropped by Jack Zenger’s office with an intriguing observation that turned out to be an “aha” breakthrough. In reviewing data they then had on 20,000 managers rated by over 200,000 bosses, direct reports, and peers, Joe found statistically significant correlations between key leadership competencies and other competencies and behaviors.
So, for example, it turns out that the competency of “Communicates Powerfully and Prolifically” has eleven companion competencies and behaviors including “Strategic Perspective,” “Establishes Stretch Goals,” “Dealing with the Outside World/Networking,” and “Involves Others.” Developing these non-linear skills — or cross-training around this competency — will significantly increase the boss, direct report, and peer perceptions of the leader’s communication skills. When the leader moves this one competency to a profound strength, his or her overall leadership effectiveness can actually double!
As Joe and Jack followed this research trail, they found a set of companion competencies and behaviors that clustered around each of the key leadership competencies. This discovery has since opened up a powerful new leadership development methodology. ZF went on to develop their Competency Companion Development Guide for leadership cross-training. This has proved to be a major tool in Zenger Folkman’s incredible success in helping good or strong leaders become great or exceptional leaders. It’s a core part of The Extraordinary Leader development system/workshop.
Read ZF’s COO, Bob Sherwin’s blog post on Cross-Training for Your Leadership Marathon for a bit more about this revolutionary approach. Jack Zenger will highlight leadership cross-training in our complimentary (no charge) September 20 webcast, Strengths-Based Leadership Development System. He’ll draw from the latest research just published in their new book, How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths.