Organizations praise high-performing managers for their unique blend of problem-solving, leadership and communication skills. However, when senior leaders encounter managers who aren’t replicating that success, even if they have the same position, they can’t understand why. While an effective manager should possess certain inherent qualities, they are ultimately products of their environment and the training they have received. Managers may not always integrate all the skills they’ve been taught into their daily tasks, but successful ones will learn how to improve through continuous accountability and feedback.
Dr. Steve Steff, the founder and president of Transforming Leadership, an executive coaching and leadership development company, has worked with thousands of executives and struggling companies. He has been providing coaching and developing management skill programs for over a decade. These experiences have provided him with valuable insights into what it takes to create managers who uplift organizations rather than drag them down.
One of the first things Steff has learned and become very passionate about is the ineffectiveness of workshops. While any kind of workshop might be beneficial for employees, he believes it doesn’t stimulate long-term change. If we don’t change our bad habits despite knowing the consequences and benefits, then why would an employee?
However, Steff is a firm believer that workshops can be a component of improving a company’s leadership practices. Exposing all your leaders to the appropriate skills and behaviors prepares them to see and expect change, but extra work must be done to integrate this new knowledge into daily workflows. Workshops and classes alone do not change behavior, he says. Behavioral change is only possible through continuous practice and accountability for shortcomings. “As humans, we are all guilty of managing, leading and communicating by habit,” Steff adds. “It’s one of our biggest flaws, but it isn’t impossible to overcome.”
According to the founder, leadership is about behaviors, which almost always require accountability to change—hence the need for coaches, who can keep people accountable in a supportive way. Coaches help managers identify why they are performing or behaving the way they are now and remove some of the barriers to change. Through coaching, managers can see which behaviors they want to practice and eventually integrate into their lives. “Consistently good leadership equals a habitual high-performance leader,” Steff says. “It’s not just the knowledge that makes them successful but also the behaviors they’ve used to create new habits.”
While coaching can be useful to address most leadership problems, many companies are hesitant to implement it. From Steff’s perspective, organizations often take the cheapest, fastest route for improving things—even if these changes only last a few weeks. Coaching programs can be more expensive than a singular workshop, but Steff defends their long-term value based on his firsthand experiences seeing how they contribute to the profitability of companies.
The founder maintains that though workshops impart knowledge, they fail to support managers when it comes to executing what they have learned. To bridge that gap, Steff and his team work to help leaders turn new skills into habits that are present and utilized every day in the workplace. “For companies that are struggling to turn an ineffective set of managers into high-performing individuals, coaching will allow senior leaders to learn what key traits are the right ones all of their managers should have,” he says. “Once they’ve unlocked that knowledge, reaching success only requires dedication and routine.”
To share his approach to transforming leadership with more organizations, Steff plans to continue speaking at conferences and summits, where he can educate leaders, and working one-on-one with executives and managers in need of support. He believes this change can provide enormous benefits to organizations, individuals, families and communities around the world.
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