Taking Leadership Development to the Next Level: How to be a Complete Leader with Ron Price

Investing time and money in leadership development is one of the best investments an organization can make, says Ron Price, Founder and CEO of Price Associates and author of the book The Complete Leader: Everything You Need to Become a High-Performing Leader. IBM recently completed a study which found that companies with 80% or more of their managers involved in ongoing leadership development programs have triple the profit of organizations that do not.

But despite the clear benefits, why is it that some organizations are still hesitant to invest in leadership development? (Hint: it usually has less to do with finances and more to do with time.)

Are there certain kinds of leadership development programs that make for success?

Today Ron answers these questions and more, telling us how to overcome the time barrier that keeps us from effective leadership development, explaining the components of a successful program, and letting us in on the details of his new book.

Ron also invites us to learn more by attending his private New Hampshire Premiere of The Complete Leader, which will be held on June 26th and June 27th in Lebanon, NH and Bedford, NH – click here to learn more and register to attend.

A Discussion with Ron Price, Author of The Complete Leader

price_photo_borderQ: How did you come up with the idea for your book, The Complete Leader, and the corresponding 18-month leadership development program?

Ron: The book grew out of the my executive coaching work, along with co-author, Randy Lisk. We were both working with senior level executives and helping them fine-tune their leadership capabilities. Our book and program have been designed as something that takes people beyond an MBA. In an MBA program, you go through case studies and you learn about finances, marketing and operations and all those things. We understand that you need that foundation, but how do you go further in developing how you think as a leader? How you get things done day in and day out with an increasingly complicated and overwhelming world around you? And how do you connect more effectively with people and create synergies on your teams so they perform at higher and higher levels?

We wanted to create a curriculum that helps leaders grow faster in practical, relevant ways. This is necessary due to two main shifts we see happening today. These changes are happening at both an organizational and a personal level. First, in talent management circles, there has been quite a shift away from looking at current competencies and instead looking at potential. Part of what’s driving that is a significant leadership shortage that’s emerging globally within organizations. It’s driven by demographics: the largest percentage of the work force in the United States is the baby boomers with 45%, but that number will decrease to 23% by 2020.

With the baby boomers retiring, we have to bring new leaders into significant roles. Gen Xers, those born between 1964-1983, will remain between 20-23% of the workforce between now and 2020. They are much smaller in number, so we have a many more leadership positions opening up than we have mature leaders to fill them. Therefore, organizations are starting to dig deeper into the millennial generation, who will represent 55% of the workforce by 2020. This creates the leadership shortage that most organizations are either experiencing or recognize is just around the corner.

At a personal level, there’s something that exists which I refer to as a leadership “gap.” This more personal “sensing” is the distance between who I am as a leader today and who I want to become in the future. It includes the natural desire for promotions within my organization, but it goes beyond earning a new title. It is the intrinsic hunger to become more expert in my field, or the natural awareness that I need to learn to make better decisions, to achieve greater results, and to build stronger teams tomorrow than I have today.

This gap creates a very healthy, creative tension that is the fuel for growth. If leaders think they’ve already mastered all the relevant leadership skills, they won’t see any need to grow. This complacency almost always manifests itself in decreasing performance and lost engagement at work.

These are the dynamics that led Randy and me to think about writing this book. The book then expanded to the website, thecompleteleader.org, and to the development program, which is an 18-month program.

When we wrote the book, we didn’t necessarily expect someone to read it cover to cover. We wrote it more like a reference manual that leaders will keep nearby throughout their careers. They can go back at any time and look at any of the 25 leadership competencies, developing a relevant application to advance their leadership effectiveness in the moment. We write about why each competency is important, how it will help someone become an effective leader in tomorrow’s world, and how an individual can continue to each competency over time.

Q: What components make for a great leadership development program?

Ron: For a leadership development program to have long-term success, it has to have three components: first, you have to have relevant, applicable content. This means having content that fits with where a person is in his or her leadership journey.

Secondly, you have to have program engagement in a way that deepens the impact so that  the growth “sticks”. And last, a great program should also facilitate building strong relationships. In the great MBA programs, people gain more than knowledge. They also build a network of people that they will stay engaged with throughout their careers. They find ways to work together and leverage these relationships with each other for a long time.

So a great leadership program gives you those three things: great content, engagement that deepens the impact, and meaningful relationships that you can leverage into the future. That’s what we thought about as we developed The Complete Leader Program.

Q: Can you tell us more about the specifics of the program?

Ron: Every applicant starts with a one-on-one, individualized assessment of his or her current talent, strengths and mastery. Our diagnostic baseline measures 55 different traits of leadership. We think this is an important starting point because, not only does it show us their current level of mastery, but it also shows us their future potential.

Next, the program is made up of quarterly sessions with groups or cohorts. Most cohorts are 15-20 people and they get together for 1 or 2 days every quarter. While working on leadership competencies individually, they also learn to present as teams. They learn specific competencies to advance their leadership as clear thinkers, such as futuristic and conceptual thinking, decision-making, creativity, and innovation. They develop a deeper mastery of competencies around self-management, such as setting priorities, achieving goals, personal accountability, resilience and flexibility. Finally, we focus on competencies that will help them improve how they lead others. These include understanding and evaluating others, negotiation, persuasion, conflict management, presenting skills and employee development and coaching.

We finish by working together on being authentic leaders. We talk about courage, being open to and seeking feedback, expanding self-awareness, and how each leader can grow to become the best possible version of him or her self. You can visit www.thecompleteleader.org for more detailed information and to see our blogs, articles and podcasts.

Q: What are the current roadblocks to leadership development and how can a company overcome them?

Ron: I think the biggest roadblock is overwhelmed employees. Over the last ten years organizations have asked their leaders to do more and more with less and less. A lot of people are carrying much heavier workloads than ever before. Candidly, the financial cost of leadership development isn’t the toughest commitment for a company to make. It is the commitment of time it takes to achieve real professional development. A good guideline for the time commitment is 10 – 20% of a leader’s working hours. Of course, this should not all be classroom development. We follow the formula that 70% should be spent learning on the job, 20% should be through mentoring relationships, and only 10% should be made up of classroom training.

We find that companies with world-class development programs also set aside 5-10% of their annual payroll for training and development. If a company is willing to make an ongoing financial AND time commitment to developing their leaders, the evidence is clear that it will generate greater profit.

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To learn more about what it takes to become a high-performing leader, you’re invited to attend Ron’s New Hampshire Premiere of The Complete Leader, which will be held on June 26th and June 27th in Lebanon, NH and Bedford, NH. Click here to learn more and register to attend.

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