Examples of leadership development courses
Head of a department in a larger IT-company
AA is the head of the development department consisting of a total of 43 staff members, including 3 sectional managers reporting to him. Career-wise, he has come far considering his age, due to his intelligence, ambition, and work ethic – he does not go easy on himself. He also sets high standards for his employees, and the general opinion is that he can be difficult to work with, as he tends to prioritize his own opinions while disregarding the perspectives of his sectional managers when making decisions. There have also been instances where he has become hot headed, and violently and inappropriately scolded his employees – especially lately, as a few deliveries have not been completed on time.
He was summoned for a meeting with the CEO and the head of HR, where they emphasized that they valued AA and his results, but that the outbursts must stop, and that he must involve his sectional leaders to a greater extent. If not, their collaboration must end. AA was offered leadership development consultations. Although AA did not quite see the point of the consultations, he accepted – given the situation, he felt it was necessary.
During the first consultation, the current situation is addressed. The organisational psychologist quickly notices, that it is very important for AA to be right, and show that he is capable. It also becomes clear, that when AA becomes short-tempered, it is due to a built-up frustration at his employees – including the sectional managers – where he perceives them as less engaged and ambitious than himself, and that they – according to him – make too many mistakes, as they are sloppy and indifferent. It also becomes apparent that AA is very hard on himself, and feels that he is not given enough recognition for his efforts and results – especially on a personal level – he does not feel he is particularly well-liked in the organisation. The organisational psychologist asks AA to explain this, but here, AA does not have a good analysis and explanation. The psychologist asks AA to consider this for their next session.
Throughout the following consultations, they discover that the general theme of lacking recognition and acceptance goes far back in AA’s life and that the way he has tried to resolve this – through his high intelligence – has been to show others that he was more capable than then – in an attempt to gain validation and approval. The problem gradually became, that through AA’s focus on constantly developing his skills and overachieving, he began to push others away, for instance by insisting on being right, and not appreciating the contributions and perspectives of others. As a result of this, AA never achieved what he actually wanted. It also becomes clear to AA that when he reacts so violently in situations where mistakes have been made, it is because he feels that, by doing this, his employees are preventing him from achieving the recognition and acceptance that he desires. But by reacting as he does, he makes It difficult for others to provide him with this recognition and acceptance.
Through the developmental leadership course, AA becomes aware of his own dynamics and receives tools to help him react more appropriately, for instance, remembering that it is his own frustrated needs that trigger his outbursts. AA also receives tools to constructively include his sectional managers more – methods, that enable them to validate AA, for instance, by implementing feedback sessions at management meetings, and by addressing their own insecurities and flaws.
AA soon finds that he is much better at controlling his irritation and anger. As he improves his collaboration with the sectional managers, AA realizes that he no longer needs to be involved in everything to the same degree. He also feels more acknowledged and respected.
Office manager in a public organisation.
BB has been the office manager for approximately 2 years – with 7 employees reporting to her. She applied for the job, as she felt stuck in her previous one, and was interested in trying her hand at a managerial position.
Initially, BB prioritised establishing good relations with her employees and succeeded. Slowly, however, BB felt that more and more tasks ended up on her plate, she began working more overtime, and would often bring her work home. Her husband was increasingly unhappy and felt that BB was stressed. At her performance appraisal, BB mentions this trend, unable to explain why, or what can be done to solve it. Her manager mentions that he does not perceive BB as happy as earlier and that she appears tired at times. Her manager suggests that BB receives some leadership development consultations – in order to figure out what is going on, and what can be done. BB is grateful for the opportunity and accepts.
During the consultations with the organisational psychologist, it becomes increasingly clear that BB’s prioritization of positive employee relationships has backfired: The employees have perceived BB’s approach and courtesy as a sign of insecurity and lack of leadership. This approach led to BB only being recognized as a leader to a limited extent by her employees. Which in turn, made it difficult for BB to delegate and distribute tasks among her employees. Particularly when BB also had a good relationship with the employees – something they presumably noticed.
It also becomes clear, that the fact that BB chooses to prioritise the positive relationships with her employees, is related to her difficulty legitimizing herself as a leader – she is essentially unsure of whether she is better than them. This insecurity, in turn, is related to BB’s low self-confidence – she doubts her own value, how significant she is to others. For this reason, BB needs to please others – so they will like BB. This problem presents challenges in her office manager position, as the hierarchy on a relational level, is turned upside down.
BB is quick to observe this connection, and it makes sense to her. However, she is unsure of how much can be done about it – her challenges with her self-esteem have been prevalent for as long as she can remember. Still, BB decides to attempt to change it, partly because she cannot see how she otherwise can progress in her career.
To make a change, they initially worked with helping BB distinguish between herself as an individual and her role as a leader. After this, she was trained and coached in a number of techniques that – over a longer period – can help BB improve her self-esteem. Finally, BB received several tasks and exercises, that should gradually change her position and relations to her employees, both in terms of practical measures (e.g. how to conduct meetings and make decisions), as well as awareness of and training in articulation and non-verbal signals.
Already after a few consultations, BB can feel that her relations to the employees are different, for instance, it has become easier for her to delegate – she is becoming more aware that it is her job to manage and distribute the work.