After having worked on leadership development with cable associations and cable companies of all sizes, I have come to a realization: it’s time for a revolution in the way we think about, train and develop leaders. In fact, let’s just scrap it all and start over.
 
The way we view leadership development is worthless. Why do I make such an outrageous statement? I see managers and leaders who are failing themselves, failing their teams and their companies. Their companies, of course, failed them first, by never providing the proper training for their leadership roles.
 
To start the much-needed revolution, it’s time for The Cable Leadership Manifesto. Follow it and see the difference. Ignore it and your company could go down in flames, buried in the ashes of leadership incompetence.
 
There are six principles in The Manifesto:
 
1. Stop promoting people to leadership roles just because they are technically competent.
 
Fred is a brilliant field tech who got promoted. His new position requires that he manage a team of 16 techs. He has no interest in leading people, however; and he probably isn’t a very gifted leader, anyway. All Fred ever wanted to do was do his field tech job well. Now he has to manage a team, which is killing him slowly.
 
Solution: Promote people in the organization who have the technical knowledge and the potential and desire to lead.
 
2. Stop promoting someone and then assuming they know how to lead.

Alexis is in Ad Sales and gets promoted to a leadership role. She is excited and optimistic about the future, but scared to death. Why? She has never led a sales team before and doesn’t know how. But she won’t admit it or ask for help. She figures that since she was promoted, she’ll just have to figure out how to be a leader.
 
Alexis goes from the frying pan straight into the fire. Her only option is to model her style on what her managers have always done. Many of those managers, by the way, were completely incompetent.
 
Solution: Have a comprehensive leadership development training program to get new managers up to speed. Fast.
 
3. Stop assuming managers don’t need development.
 
I once met with a CEO of a small company. I asked him about his training and development initiatives. He raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Who would I train? Most of my managers have been here a long time.” When I mentioned the concept of ongoing development, he smiled and replied, “I hired them because they know what they’re doing. Why would I have to train them? If I have to train them, I hired the wrong person.” From the expression on his face and the tone of his voice I could tell that the discussion wasn’t going anywhere. Clearly he didn’t understand and was never going to.
 
Just because you a manager is hired doesn’t mean that he or she already is a great manager. Even if they are, training always helps leaders grow their skills.

Solution:
Every leader in the organization should have an individual development plan and should receive training annually. If they don’t, they will leave and go somewhere where they can get training and development.
 
4. Stop allowing mean leaders to lead teams.
 
I have been in many organizations where I’ve met and observed managers who are mean, surly, demanding, rude, offensive and specialize in striking fear into the hearts of team members. Why is this allowed? The answer is always either they get results or they’ve been there a long time. Neither of these answers is acceptable nor a legitimate excuse for that kind of objectionable behavior. The days of mean bosses are over. Come on, this is 2011 and leaders have to lead with influence, negotiation, expectation and motivation.
 
What companies don’t understand is that allowing abominable managers to keep being mean is sending employees a confusing message: ‘We allow our managers to treat you like dirt, but we value you still.’ Yeah, right. The mission statement posted on the walls says something completely different than the way employees are treated. It’s somewhat of a disconnect.

Solution:
Mean leaders need to be put on notice that they have to change or they have to go. There’s sure to be a celebration in the employee lunch room if the tyrannical manager is fired. Employees certainly will breathe easier if their nasty manager is forced to change.
 
5. Stop allowing executives to think that they don’t need development.
 
In many companies, I hear: ‘Well, we can have training, but our Vice Presidents won’t attend.’ Why not? ‘They don’t feel that they need training and if they did, it would be an admission that they have skills they need to work on.’
 
In many organizations, attending training is viewed as a sign of weakness. What’s going on here? Just because someone attends training, they’re weak? Shouldn’t commitment to development be viewed as a strength? Apparently not. In the leadership ranks of many organizations, this is a liability. Sad, but true. Arrogance and ego are robbing executives of development that they need.
 
Solution: The leader has to model a dedication to development and insist that every executive get training and development annually, based on specific and identified areas for improvement. When the rest of the organization sees that executives are committed to development, then they will be more inclined to do so. In working with a recent cable client, the SVP sat in on all four training programs I conducted—in four different cities. He wanted employees to know training was important.
 
6. Stop waiting until you have a vacant leadership role to identify talent.
 
Here is how I see it happening in many organizations. Someone in a leadership role resigns or is fired. Panic ensues. Executives meet to see who can fill the role. Is there someone internally they can promote? Do they need to do an outside executive search? Although they seem organized, they will never admit there’s no strategy. They’re flying by the seat of their pants.
 
Solution: Every organization should have a talent management initiative. This would include recruitment, succession planning, leadership development for future leaders, leadership development for current leaders and ongoing individual development plans. This helps to build the talent pool for future needs.
 
I want to see a brighter day when companies and organizations are led by leaders who are inspired, dedicated and skillful in the way they lead their teams. Let’s blow up the old school. Let’s tear down the old bronze monuments to arrogance, incompetence and management by intimidation.
 
Let the cable leadership revolution begin.
 
(A former VP at Comcast University, Shawn Doyle is a speaker and author of 10 books. President of New Light Learning and Development Inc., which specializes in training and development programs for cable, Doyle will lead a CableFAX workshop on leadership, retention and the bottom line April 5 in NYC. Click here for info about that workshop.His site is: www.shawnspeakscable.com).
 

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