Mix it up: a clarifying note on openness and hierarchy
Peer-to-peer does not mean parity across a level in a hierarchy; that mid-level leaders mix with other mid-level leaders; that fast track high potentials mix and learn exclusively from other fast track high potentials; or that the Board experiences exclusive Board-level leadership programmes, retreats, coaching... which is how most leadership development programmes are sadly grouped: pitched at distinct horizontal levels within a hierarchy.
We learn best by mixing it up. How much collective leadership experience does your Board have in person-years: 100 years, 200 years? And what exactly do you and they do with that stored up accumulation of gold standard leadership capital? Where is your program(me) for unlocking that treasure chest of leadership expertise and experience, and cascading it down through your organization, like one of those champagne glass pyramids at weddings?
Where and how do your top level leaders mix it up with the rest of your organization, candidly sharing their leadership legacy regularly and systematically –sharing true tales of success and failure, of what works and what doesn‘t, and learning THEMSELVES by being challenged by those they share these stories with. Jack Welch used to do exactly this by teaching leadership classes at GE‘s learning centre at Crotonville.
Most Board-level leaders don‘t do this. Because most large organizations do not have a platform for robust two-way leadership conversations and exchanges of learning up and down the hierarchy. Most organizations‘ Board-level leaders are, therefore, failing to lead.
If you help to run a large organization‘s HR department and are tasked with leadership development, and your Board is not given the opportunity to share its leadership legacy regularly with the rest of the organization, then you are culpable, too: it‘s your job to challenge them to earmark a certain amount of their own time each week to leadership development shared across the organization; to come up with program(me)s or with a space – which is what the in-house version of the Leadership Hub is designed to be - to help them open up and stop hoarding that leadership capital.