Frontline leaderThis is a rare event, but I completely agree with an ATD post titled, “Frontline Leaders Need Development Too.” In the post, the author makes a case about the importance and neglect of frontline leaders.   She argues that frontline leaders are critically important in multiple ways, but that their development programs are the first to be cut. I would emphasize one aspect of why they are important that is alluded to but not completely developed.   Frontline leaders are the direct connection between an organization’s strategy and its visible work. We often ask individual contributors how their work connects to the organization’s strategy. Their answer is usually, “I have no idea.” I firmly believe that frontline supervisors are the “connective tissue” which makes them critically important to an organization.   One reason why frontline leaders tend to be neglected is that when things go well, the individual contributors are praised. The team leaders are also praised, but only indirectly. However, when things go wrong, it’s the failure of the team leaders.   I also really like the author’s four recommendations for leadership skills: business acumen, goal alignment and goal setting, goal execution and lastly, coaching and feedback. We do many leadership development programs for frontline leaders and these recommendations are included in our programs.   Going slightly further, I think the two most important things a frontline leader does is motivate individuals and groups of individuals. Next, they form the individuals into high-performing, integrated teams. While this is hinted at in the coaching and feedback recommendations, these are actually the foundation of leadership success. Frontline leadership is mainly about motivating others. It should always come first.   I would love to hear how the author actually develops the previously mentioned skills in frontline leaders. From using third-party observations and surveys, better than 90 percent of the frontline leaders in our development programs were able to demonstrate amazing capabilities in all of the areas.   Would you like to improve the performance of your frontline leaders?]]>

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