Manila, 21 December 2016 — How long does it take to become a leader? Can we make it happen faster? The answer is yes. The question is: are you ready to do what it takes?
In my work with aspiring leaders of all ages and from around the world, I found that there is an unmistakable difference in how they move with their leadership development, or don't.
Every time I start training a new group of leaders, my fervent wish is for all participants to take maximum benefit from the program and master how to lead change. I know that is possible.
What I see is some leaders 'going for max' and soon attracting unprecedented results in their work and life, while others seem to be holding themselves back from gaining those results.
So what is the difference between these two groups of leaders?
The difference is Action.
As the 70:20:10 rule for leadership development shows, getting inspired and trained will contribute 10% of the desired change. A good start, and no more than that.
Most of the progress comes from taking on challenges, which is 70% of the work. That means stepping outside the comfort zone, and taking lots of action.
Finally, the remaining 20% is like the all-important glue in between the other two, and it comes from asking for feedback—which takes courage too—and getting support.
Last week a group of corporate utility managers in the International Water Leadership Program decided to take up a tough challenge I asked them to pick up: to bridge an important divide in their workplace in four days.
That's right, in just four days. Yesterday, they reported results, and it was completely clear that several of them achieved amazing results in just four days... after they took action.
One of the mangers led experienced and young staff in her office to start collaborating by reorganizing their workspaces. Another manager achieved improvements in customer care from closer collaboration in his team. And a third manager shared how staff productivity and teamwork improved after she encouraged staff in the weekly meeting to 'listen to their life calls.'
They accomplished these changes in four days by turning their commitment (in the training) into action (in their workplace).
During the past four days I engaged with a group of leaders of a very different age, between 12 and 15 years young, from high schools in three different regions in the Philippines. They had come together to join the newly launched Young Bridging Leaders (YBL) program of the ASEAN Youth Leaders Association (AYLA) in partnership with Natalie in the Light (NILI) Inc. and Youth for Asia of the Asian Development Bank.
A requirement of the YBL program is for the teams of 3-4 school students to implement a local community project in 6 months after the leadership camp and thereby support one of the Sustainable Development Goals. They had done research in their communities before coming to the camp.
The challenge picked up by these young leaders was to review and redesign their projects four times in three days in response to a flood of comments they received in workshops and clinics with experts and social entrepreneurs. It was tough on them.
They had never experienced such a challenge before, and they chose to 'go for it.' On the final camp day they delivered in style, with powerful presentations in front of a panel.
And, before they went home, they again reviewed their projects, from the perspective of implementation plans, to be fully prepared to deliver on their commitment as Young Bridging Leaders.
Within a day after the camp, one of the young professionals leading the organization gave herself a big challenge when she decided to redesign her training for government officials the next day by using the leadership techniques we had used in the camp.
Yesterday she reported how her training presentation had evoked a powerful and emotional response in her audience of professionals and management, with inputs flowing freely from the participants who were eager to take ownership of the training with the new techniques she had just taught.
This challenge took only one day to start and complete.
So do you have what it takes to become a leader faster?
When you are prepared to learn, be challenged, get feedback, and take action right away, there is no limit to what you can achieve with your leadership in a matter of just days!