09th May 2017

Three leadership development exercises to challenge your executives

Strong leadership is built from a complex set of interchangeable skills, much like a toolbox. Executives in an organisation need to selectively choose the skills they use to address each situation they face, because when you’re running a business every day presents a brand new set of challenges requiring a unique solution.

Facing fresh challenges allows executives to expand their leadership skillset. These challenges can be simulated through leadership development exercises which help leaders to strengthen the pool of skills they draw from to make business decisions.


Flex your executive muscle with stretch assignments

It’s easy for senior executives to become comfortable and develop reactionary responses to new situations. And while the comfort zone is indeed comfortable, it’s not the ideal way to hone your leadership abilities and effectively face tomorrow’s challenges.

A stretch assignment can be used to challenge on-the-job development of an executive in your organisation and give them the adaptability needed in the world of business. We’ve listed three of our top leadership development exercises below that are a great place to start.


1. Resolve team conflict to develop executive communication skills training

When it comes to solving problems and running a cohesive and collaborative team, communication is essential. Your teams need to clearly understand the business’s objectives and your instructions. Communications skills training can be a great tool for leadership development.

One area of communication which is great for executives to work on is conflict resolution. Every conflict has a unique set of DNA born from its own distinctive circumstances. In order to clearly identify an issue and find a solution that benefits everyone, lines of communication need to be clear, free and open.

We recommend you stretch your executives by asking them to resolve a hypothetical team conflict. Being able to take responsibility in difficult work situations allows team members to develop powerful communication skills.


2. Enhance your executive decision making process with team building activities

The decisions you make today can greatly impact the way your business operates tomorrow, and long into the future. Try putting together a small team to perform market and customer analysis within your organisation. Ask them to find key areas to improve your company offer based on the findings. As well as providing valuable insight into the market orientation of your company, this will enhance the team building and critical skills of your executives. These are two qualities which are at the heart of strong leadership.


3. Review and successfully deliver a failed project

In the tough world of modern business, resilience is key. Knowing how to recover from a knock without losing your cool is key to keeping the ship afloat, especially in troubled waters.

A fantastic team building activity for senior executives is taking a retrospective look at a project which failed in the past (perhaps previously handled by a preceding executive and team), and reworking it in order to ensure success.

This presents an opportunity for a small team of executives to work together. This will allow executives to critically reflect on their own work and strengthen their negotiation skills. Plus, this process of reflection will ensure you are fine tuning your company approach to all projects and the way executives work together.


How will a stretch assignment help your business?

When we work with clients, we encourage using a mix of development exercises to cater for various types of personalities, learning styles and areas of development. Stretch assignments are important to include in this mix as they provide the following benefits:


They are cost-effective

Compared to a university course, stretch assignments are a great, low cost way to help your business learn and grow, on top of any formal learning you may be undertaking. Plus, it makes much more efficient use of your organisation’s time.


They bring real, tangible results

Stretch assignments are a great opportunity to tackle a project that might’ve fallen by the wayside because of lack of people or resources. If you can build value into your business at the same time as sharpening up your executive skills, why wouldn’t you?


They increase employee retention

Working together to accomplish a task shows you value your employees, and people who feel valued are always far more likely to stick around. As an executive, you understand the value of retention better than most people.


How to plan targeted leadership development exercises

Take the next step towards stronger leadership with a program designed to help build your growth, and in turn your business. Download our free worksheet to reflect on your leadership skills and plan stretch assignments which work well for executives in your company.


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Glen Petersen

Glen Petersen

CEO at Generator Talent
With more than 35 years in business, working in large global businesses and consulting, Glen has a wise head set firmly on experienced shoulders – a good thing to have as Generator Talent’s founder and CEO. He is in demand by clients who value his pragmatic advice and ability to positively influence people and improve business outcomes.
Glen Petersen

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