In the early stages there is a huge focus on formal qualifications. Learning about models, theories, principles, doing case studies are seen as the best option.
At some point, some form of leadership development is added to the mix. This might incorporate different approaches to learning and also include personal support through coaching and mentoring.
While all of this is good, often the biggest learning comes on the job. By giving people the opportunity to do it for real.
Often getting exposure to different ways, situations or contexts can really make a difference. Often there are plenty of people who are excellent in their field. The challenge comes when they have to operate outside of their field.
So how might you do this in practice?
One option is to take a secondment to another part of an organisation or a different division if working in a large organisation.
Another way is to have a mentor from a different sector or industry or even a different professional discipline who can offer a different perspective.
You might also want to consider going to more cross industry development events.
Alternatively you could look at volunteering in a sector that you know little or nothing about.
Perhaps you could get involved on a major project that impacts on the whole organisation.
At the end of the day, the decision as to what’s best is a personal one. At the same time getting exposure to a range of different ways will help you to be a better leader.
In summary since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them achieve career success and become better leaders and presenters. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.