Becoming a CEO is one of the greatest learning experiences and the best CEOs are always developing.
Stanislav Shekshnia, an Affiliate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at INSEAD, says business schools should look at their curricula to see if they teach subjects relevant to the future CEOs - developing vision, selecting talent, enabling performance, managing in crisis, communicating with the whole organisation, personal discipline and efficacy, preparing legacy and managing succession, and using language that business people understand.
“If business schools want to be relevant to CEO development they should start teaching things they have not traditionally taught,’’ Shekshnia writes., “They should teach how to learn and unlearn at all stages of one’s career, how to be healthy, and how to find and maintain one’s style. Some schools are already experimenting in these areas and we will see more of such courses coming. But we would like to suggest that business schools seriously consider making a step further and offer education in hard skills to complement the soft skills needed. They could partner with technical universities and provide training not only in managing technology or services but in state-of-the art or future technology and services. It will make them much more attractive places for aspiring and acting CEOs.”
Aubrey Warren, an executive coach with Australian Growth Coaching, says leaders learn about leadership by becoming more self-aware and learning about themselves.
“Self-awareness is at the heart of what we often refer to as emotional intelligence,’’ Warren writes.
”Understanding our strengths and weaknesses and being aware of our emotional and intellectual responses to the often highly-charged situations we encounter every day are vital first steps to managing our behaviour, decision making and influencing strategies. Learning about ourselves can help us play to our strengths more effectively and be more open to support in weaker areas. It can also increase our self-confidence.”
He says it also requires a commitment to learn about others, to participate in a group interpersonal skills program, either with colleagues or in a public program and even set up a group reading program. Most importantly, it’s all about a commitment to learning. “Organisations, departments and teams need shared commitment to developing not just individual leaders for specific roles at specific times, but leadership capacity throughout teams, departments and organisations. The commitment to personal and organisational leadership capacity is a natural part of any organisation's ongoing commitment to ‘the pursuit of excellence’,” he says.
Dan McCarthy, the director of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire, says the ability of the CEO to learn is reflected in the organisation.
“Committed CEOs publicly work on their own leadership development, then work on the development of their executive team. They coach them, give them feedback, and develop individual development plans with them. They support their development. A CEO’s behaviours are powerful - they set the expectations for the rest of the management team, creating a trickle-down effect of leadership development.”
How do you maintain your development as a CEO?