There are a number of ways to develop leaders around you but I think that nothing beats exposure and I will share with you why that is.
If you are not exposing the people you are developing as leaders, then you are falling short in your leadership development efforts.
There are leadership courses, mentorship opportunities and arrangements, workshops ad infinitum but if exposure is left out, we fall short of developing complete leaders.
So just what is exposure in leadership development?
Simply put, it is the intentional act of putting the “leader in development” in the environment where they are required to live out their leadership traits or skills.
And we are talking beyond role-playing during workshops and other training modes.
This is about real life.
So why should you give your leaders in development exposure to environments like these?
The First Reason
It awakens the realization that they can actually do this…or at least some of it to begin with.
You could ask them to assist in preparing for a Board Meeting, or just sitting in the meeting that would help them come to the realization that they can actually lead the meeting should the time come.
You can have them sit through training workshop several times and then ask them to take small parts as their confidence grows.
Just get them out there to watch, comment analyze because some things are better “caught than taught”
Exposure is priceless.
The Second Reason
Role-plays and simulations are great tools to impart skills but they come short in the sense that they are controlled environments. People know what to do next because it was determined beforehand.
And that has its place in leadership development.
But nothing surpasses the time when a leader in training is exposed to an environment that is not controlled. Where there is no script to follow or better still, when the script is not being followed.
Then their creativity and ability to improvise as a leader is called into action right there and then.
Exposure quickly teaches that life is unpredictable and the leaders in development needs to think on their feet.
The Third Reason
Exposing the leader in development also challenges them to continue to grow because the quickly learn that no two situations are alike. No two management meetings are alike. Neither are the field trips you may lead with the same team members.
The call to continue learning and growing should become apparent with more exposure. That feeling of being empowered increases confidence and, with it, the drive to attempt more.
So whatever plans we have for leadership development in our teams, make exposure, at the right time, a part of it. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Sunganani L. Manjolo