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Leadership skills should remain fine-tuned

Educating management or leadership is an ongoing process that requires formal interventions as well as valuable development through mere experience and years of trial and error.
Whilst most learning is acquired through the involvement of leading new companies, unusual portfolios, managing various teams, managing & directing key projects and innovations, it is still imperative for leaders to invest in selective formal education.

Fine-tuning your skills

In order to effectively lead today's teams, CEO's have to ensure that they too are constantly 'sharpening the sword' and fine-tuning their skills and capabilities. The teams of today are much younger than before with a different set of ideals and ways of operating. CEO's cannot be left behind, and need to take a firm commitment to invest in refreshing and reinvigorating their leadership stance and knowledge - this in turn will have the same positive and current effect on their business.

Formal education can vary from a short course at a reputable institute, to a one-day lecture or even studies abroad at a suitable business school. In addition, available research forms an enormous part of leadership development, and in today's technologically driven environment leaders have access to more information than ever before. Nowadays influential reading material is easily accessible via the internet, and subscriptions to leading publications such as Harvard Business Review are readily available. In addition, opinion pieces from comparable industry leaders, as well as case studies, can easily be found in financial publications.

Management Education is not as formal as it was a few decades ago. Whilst the formal degrees and MBAs are always regarded as the credible options, in recent years we have seen more focused courses introduced to the market. For example, at Insead you can attend a course on a Blue Oceans Strategy which is based on the book by Mauborgne and Chan Kim.

A variety of available courses

Many business schools, including our local institutions such as Stellenbosch University, are now offering formal Executive Coaching courses. We have seen a rapid increase in executive coaching amongst leaders and their respective teams. This has become common amongst the more open minded, less rigid leaders who have gained the personal experience and personal growth by partaking in executive coaching themselves.

More specialised and targeted courses are available today such as Innovation and Managing Changes. Short courses are also becoming more attractive to leaders who have limited available time and who are often likely to either participate in an after-hours program or a short five day course.

Years ago you would not attend a leadership course and be asked to do creative writing or stand up in a crowd and participate in creative team tasks, however today this is the norm in leadership courses at Oxford University, for example. My personal experience of such was at the Said Business School when I took part in the Oxford Strategic Leadership Program in 2012.

I have often been asked about where I have seen the greatest change in leadership and how? For me it is probably around what 'old school' leaders still perceive as the 'softer issues'. There is a huge movement on the awareness and focus on the individual's self or the leaders' purpose in leading an organisation to its ultimate goal.

For example, Richard Olivier in his book Inspirational Leadership, makes a comparison between contemporary leadership and Henry V. He presents this in a theatrical manner to convey his impactful messages, which I fully support. He reiterates that for leaders to become fully integrated, they need to merge what he calls the inner self with the outer self. Integrate their external functional attributes with their individual purpose and inner core.

New methods of learning

As the capability of technology changes and advances, so too does the landscape of learning. We can now research and learn online, attend webinars, listen to iconic speakers on the net and access almost any publication, some at no charge.

We are seeing the introduction of new methods of leadership development such as Neuro Leadership. Methods are becoming more creative and the delivering of course material is taking on a new refreshed and alternative approach. At Oxford, we even participated in a choir conducting experience to study our individual leadership styles - now that is refreshing!

We are observing and studying unconventional markets to pick up new methods and patterns. No longer are the first world countries the only source of experience - developing markets such as South Africa are offering a greater business learning experience.

About Val Bourdos Nichas

Owner of VBN Consultants. A respected leader and visionary with solid business experience spanning nearly 30 years

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