Leadership is multi-layered, requires a wide range of skills and qualities, and is difficult to learn and to teach. At RSVP Design we are often asked if we can provide short workshops or activities for leadership development. This raises many questions about the needs of the clients, their culture, beliefs, definitions of leadership and expectations.
In many cases, the appropriate response is to recognise that we cannot ‘develop leaders’ through short, isolated interventions. However, we can identify some of the demands that are made on leaders and help them to develop skills that will strengthen their leadership thinking, decision making and their relationships with those they lead.
RSVP Design workshops are based upon four key aspects of leadership, which we believe are the primary responsibility of people in leadership roles.
1. Developing future strategy based upon the agreed mission and goals
2. Building commitment and ensuring engagement from those involved in delivering the strategy
3. Ensuring that those who follow are resourced, supported and empowered to carry out their responsibilities in delivering the strategy
4. Overseeing and analysing the impact of the strategy and associated activity to ensure that pre-determined goals are achieved effectively and efficiently.
Effective leadership can only be assessed by examining the behaviours that leaders demonstrate and the actions that they take. Whilst knowledge of leadership theory may help leaders to reflect upon their own performance, they will be judged on what they stand for and what they do. Therefore, we believe that workshops should provide realistic opportunities for leaders to act, under pressure, before taking time to reflect on the results of their actions.
We therefore have two possible approaches to workshop delivery.
1. We offer practical activities that focus on the specific skills needed to carry out the leadership responsibilities identified above. These workshops may include specific communication skills, negotiation skills, coaching skills, critical thinking or decision-making skills – all of which support successful leadership interventions.
2. We offer more complex, customised leadership simulations in which leaders are required to utilise all of the skills in working through a process of strategy development and delivery. These simulations are likely to be extended projects, involving resource management, change management, potential conflict, negotiation and performance monitoring as leaders take a team towards the achievement of organisational goals and targets.
Each of these approaches can be valuable in providing opportunities for rehearsal and application of leadership skills. However, the use of more complex, extended simulations is more valuable as leaders are required to engage with realistic leadership processes and questions.
- What can I see on the horizon? What opportunities or pressures exist that will inform the vision I develop going forward?
- How do I use my vision of the future to determine the mission and goals of the organization?
- What strategic options can I identify, and how do I evaluate those, in order to make decisions about our strategy as we go forward?
- How do I present the vision and strategy to those who will need to engage with it? How do I demonstrate energy and enthusiasm in order to build conviction and commitment?
- How do I ensure that the people charged with delivery of the strategy have the physical and emotional resources they need?
- How do I ‘sell’ difficult concepts and overcome resistance?
- What ethical and performance standards do I expect and how do I ensure they are being achieved?
- What is the process I need to put in place to assess impact and modify the strategy if necessary?
For more information about RSVP Design’s leadership workshops and simulations, contact us at [email protected] or +44 (0)141 561 0387 for expert advice.