December 2013

In This Issue

Leadership – Best Practices to Apply in 2014





Leadership – Best Practices to Apply in 2014

As year-end approaches I have been reflecting on the projects and work I found most rewarding and fulfilling over the past 12 months. With that in mind, the last newsletter of 2013 is a summary of some of my thoughts and suggestions for developing the most important and valuable resources companies have – their people! Here are my top four topics.


Curious about the impact your people can have on the success of your firm? Read this case study which outlines my involvement with a very successful initiative for a leading professional services consulting company. It has yielded incredible results, and has been expanded to other regions and disciplines within the firm.

As my case study reveals, companies that develop leaders early in their careers, and make it part of the corporate culture, can realize significant quantitative and qualitative results. Through my own experience, I have found that employees that do not receive management and leadership development until they are in their 40's struggle more and find the behaviours and changes required achieving success more difficult to implement.

Here is some evidence to support the need to make leadership development a priority.


As you reflect on your people development efforts – successes, challenges and things you'd like to "do-over", consider starting the new year with an intentional plan for talent development. If you are in a leadership or senior management position, it is your responsibility to create a pathway for the next generation of leaders. Don't wait any longer or hope someone else will do it. It is crucial that you help those who are moving up within the organization and transitioning from being associates, supervisors and managers to become successful leaders. The risk of waiting is that your best and brightest become disengaged and stay only for the paycheck, or leave and join your competitors, or potentially band together with like minded colleagues to become your newest competitor that takes some of your best clients.

Part of your mandate must be to develop your future leaders. Don't leave it up to someone else. Organizations require existing leaders to model not only the technical competencies and skills required for success, but also have the determination and moral and ethical values required to succeed and to develop the vision for a better future.

Check-out a recent blog that deals with the importance of lavishing attention on your best performers to develop and retain them. That blog is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to employee development. Also see my November newsletter for the five steps model for creating an integrated personal development plan for your staff.


Tomorrow's leaders are today's junior and intermediate employees who seek opportunities for increased responsibility, input, and demonstrate the desire to learn new skills. They seek a clearly defined path for advancement, opportunities to learn and grow, and a network of skilled and passionate mentors and coaches assisting them to develop their technical and relationship skills. An important factor in engaging and developing younger staff and developing future leaders is the need to develop not only their I.Q but also their E.Q., or emotional intelligence as its commonly referred to. I have found the development of E.Q. to be one of the most important abilities for success in business and in life. It helps develop a more balanced approach to leadership and management.

Daniel Goleman, author of Working with Emotional Intelligence, provides some valuable perspective on the impact of developing soft skills, in addition to the ongoing enhancement of technical competencies and specific job related knowledge and skills.

  • I.Q. or technical ability has long been identified as the most, and in some cases the only factor required to achieve business success.
  • Current research is revealing that emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities in building trust and creating powerful work teams.
  • In some situations emotional competence is the deciding factor for selecting or rejecting a person, team or company.
  • Emotional competence is often the crucial factor between success and failure in interviews, client meetings and team effectiveness.


Lack of a path for advancement can have a negative impact on aspiring leaders. The way forward may be obscured due to their lack of experience, company politics, or managers that are afraid to relinquish control or feel threatened by a bright, capable employee and hinder his or her progress or even lay claim to their ideas. Employee engagement must be championed by all levels of management. Unfortunately some of those charged with the responsibility of leading do not want to lead, or in some cases lack the skills to effectively lead their teams and junior staff.

Furthermore, differing intergenerational values and perspectives between Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, present a challenge for many individuals. At worst, they create a gap between aspiring leaders and the managers and other senior staff who have the potential to serve as coaches and mentors. It is critical that labels such as "us" and "them" and "young" and "old' are eliminated in favor of common goals and culture that all can relate to and work to achieve. Get all leaders regardless of their age into one room and connecting with each other. Drop the "young" and "old" labels as they do nothing more than segregate or alienate people. Instead, state we are all "partners" working towards common goals, learning from each other and leveraging each other's strengths and talents. Change the language to create a positive space where trust is built and the exchange of ideas flourishes.

"Your business and results are a reflection of you. Your business and results will grow in direct proportion to your own growth."
— James A. Ray


Here's a valuable perspective on starting to develop your future leaders sooner than later. Ram Charan in his book Leaders at all Levels stated "You will need to know at the earliest possible time what a leader's true talents are. The first year is not too soon to start. Anyone with potential to be a leader is a "high potential". But the most critical need of a company is to build the talent pool from which the CEO comes. This is where you extract an ounce of gold from a ton of ore. A successful succession process must have an explicit component for identifying leaders early who could someday be a CEO and tailoring their experiences, training, and developing to both their individual talents and to the demands of that most challenging job."

The bottom line is this — don't wait. It is no longer about finding the best people for the job. It is all about developing talented and passionate leaders that enable your organization to grow and thrive.

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves."
— Lao Tzu

Wishing a New Year filled with growth, learning and development that find you and your organization stronger and more successful.

© 2013 Ralph Kison


Kison   Suite 35, 10551 Shellbridge Way    Richmond BC V6X 2W9    604.284.5133