Leadership Development – What is the first step to make it works?

“A leader is someone who marches his people towards a better future”, Marcus Buckingham said it in his book Discover Your Strength. Research on how good corporations perform better than their competitors revealed that leadership is a pivot point. Sustainable high performance of a corporation in over twenty years have been associated with the existence of strong leadership and successions of talents (Mc Kinsey’s publication on The War for Talent in 2001). If every company knows that leadership is so important for its success and survival what make many corporations being mediocre or even fail at it?


Since 1970 there have been many theories and approaches on how to develop an effective leader. Academics, consultants and trainers have claimed their approaches are superior than others. Many perspectives in how to develop human capital have stemmed from approaches in sports, educations, neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive psychology, family therapy, management fads, spirituality and religions. From my observations and empirical evidence, I have learnt that what works best is when we have a holistic understanding of what an organisation truly needs given the context of its culture, ambition and capacity to grow. Adopting best practice without knowing the inside out of an organisation dynamics often led to roving without tangible progress.


Values and belief are foundation that drive reactions, decisions and actions of an individual. Value is a belief about what has to be followed or fulfilled as it is regarded of importance. Belief is about how someone sees the world. How someone foresees possibilities and limitations. How someone perceives events and gives meaning to them. Values and belief are often called mindset that manifest in corporate culture. Leadership development efforts that over emphasise on knowledge and skills without superseding mindset alignment will not produce leaders that can take new actions.


When you interview a leader of his opinions to solve a problem, intellectually he can provide some good answers. In reality does he practice what he just has answered? A leader who says he prefers delivering positive feedback is not necessarily a good coach. A leader that says he is open to new ideas and critics may not be a good listener. The gap of knowing and doing is immense. It is driven by what the leaders believe right to do in his most daring circumstance. A good leader will be tested what his true mindset during a critical situation. A leader that has personal safety as his top value will have a very different response with one that has responsibility as his top value. The difference in ‘stated’ and ‘practiced’ values is emergent only through a crisis.


A manager can acquire and practice new knowledge when conditions in his organisation supports his learning journey. Pressurising, indecisive, narcissistic, ego maniac, yes man, hypocrite superiors are the obstacles for a manager to practice what they have learnt. Many corporations also sow unhealthy culture when leaders at the top play favouritism. Selections and promotions are driven by know who. Rewards and performance evaluations are tools for managers to exercise power over their subordinates. People who are good at sucking up their bosses are those who remain after restructuring an organisation. This all in all conveys a message that to grow and be successful in the organisation you do not need to practice what you have learnt. In other words, these organisations have failed at developing leaders due to lacking of role models and unsupportive culture.


HR development best practices have been progressing so vast and quickly in the last two decades. Adopting them cannot be done through participation of a seminar or workshop. It demands rigorous, integrated and coherent approaches. Developing an effective leader starts with how the company aligns its culture. The process often requires senior leaders to start learning how they can have different conversations. Leaders need to learn how they waft new moods and embody new being. This means that the leaders learn engaging new conversations that open up possibilities, generate new mood of hopes and excitements, and sow trust and confidence. Without them, any developmental effort at the content and process level will be likely futile. Through new conversations a leader imbues a new mindset, generates moods of openness and welcomes differences. This is the spark of a learning and developmental journey in an organisation.






9 Types of Bosses Who Create Disengagements

We often talk about how to engage employees and make an organisation a better place to work. We forget that the engagement process of the employee is actually driven by the attitude of the boss. There are 9 most common type of bosses that show attitude which disengage their teams.

Here are the 9 type of those bosses:

1. A boss that deals with politics and power in an unprofessional way. Some bosses do not expect their people to have strong team bonding. They fear that their team will someday act against his position and power. Bosses like this often uses tactics such as splitting power, use gossips and rumours to create internal conflict. They believe that conflicts give them advantage of taking control his/her power.

2. A boss that becomes jealous upon seeing his/her subordinates showing better thinking or capabilities. This type of bosses has an inferiority complex that is hidden under his power and his need to always be in power. This type of bosses often does not want to see his/her subordinate getting a better career or surpass his/her position.

3. Negative talks that generate a mood of resentment among the team member. Cynicism, condescending tone, arrogance will make his/her team grow resentful. When people are in this mood, they want to get even or retaliate. This is not a good way of instilling support and building positive energy in the organisation.

4. Excessive use of fear and threat to drive people into action. At first workers seem to improve their performance when fear is imposed. However, in the long run it grows similar to cancer which saps morale and energy of people in the organisation. Worse, people will do their job only under surveillance. At best, they just do what is written in the SOP. Creativity will be crippled and fear presents itself.

5. Authoritarian leadership style. When people cannot express their mind freely the organisation will breed blind followers. The unintended side effects are: disloyal employees, field problems are kept from being known by upper layer, and growing ignorance among employees.

6. A boss that can not control his/her emotion and often uses YTS: ‘Yelling, Threatening and Swearing’ . In the long run good people will leave and the remaining will be lethargic after prolonged stress. Some of them still work because they can not find a better place. Their purpose of work is only for economical survival. They will not care if bad things happen to the company.

7. A boss who demands full loyalty of his/her people. This type of bosses demands his/her team to fulfil his/her request at once. He/she needs a constant assurance that nobody betrays him/her. Working for this type of boss is a type of modern slavery, with the chains not in the form of handcuffs, but salary, perks and benefits.

8. A boss who says and believes that he/she is always right. This Mr Right is astute at diplomacy and word war at meeting room. He/she knows how to build coalitions which he/she needs to cling onto for support and power. Working under him will surely depreciate self respect and self values. Often high blood pressure and depression are pervasive among his/her team.

9. A boss who does not grow nor groom his/her team. This boss treats his/her people as his/her possessions. Good team members are kept and not allowed to work cross-functionally. He/she rarely coaches, mentors or teaches. There is practically no transfer of skills to his/her team member.

Good people do not leave their organisation.They leave bad bosses. Not surprisingly, the type of bosses as illustrated above often survive for long in the company. They may grow their power base since the early establishment of the organisation. The main task of human capital as a policy maker is to be aware about the existence of such individual. The efforts of people development or culture change will not produce desired results when this type of boss presence.

The challenge of HR or Human Capital is to design a system, process and practice that do not allow such individual to exist or even thrive in the organisation.

(leksana th)Bad Bosses