Transformation Solutions Blog

Is Your Leadership Model Sticky?

February 4th, 2020

While the leadership development space is a billion-dollar industry, we still aren’t developing more effective leaders.  Why is this?  Well, before you start buying a solution, you need to identify the problem you are trying to solve.  That is where having a leadership model – a clear definition of what leadership means to your organization – comes into play.

Often leadership models describe a long list of competencies and are extremely complex.  So, it feels like we are asking our leaders to achieve the impossible and be everything to everyone.  It’s difficult to assess our leaders against these, let alone identify developmental needs.

According to research by the Neuroleadership Institute, 41% of organizations use a model that relies on more than 5 core phrases, and underneath each of these 5 core phrases are additional lists of behaviors that add as many as 30 more desired behaviors to the model; which leaders are expected to recall and apply in everyday situations.  Below is an example of one organization’s leadership model.  You don’t have to be able to read it to get a sense that is way too complex to be memorable.

A great leadership model needs to be easy to recall and contain sets of behaviors that are directly linked to business outcomes.  There are three important questions to answer when reviewing your leadership model:

  1. Can they remember it?  (If they can’t recall it, they can’t apply it)
  2. Do they care about this?  (are leaders motivated to use the model in everyday situations?)
  3. Does it fit what they are asked to do?  (are roles clear?)

It just makes sense that we already have a lot of information swirling around in our heads on a daily basis; so, our leadership model needs to be easy to recall – or sticky.

Remember the old acronym KISS?  That’s how we should look at our leadership models.  We need them to be inspirational and memorable.  Then the layer that resides beneath the model should be job results.  When job results and leadership behaviors are linked together, you get an extremely powerful tool that delivers business results.