A quick Google search using the term “leadership development failure” pulled up 2,280,000 results. I wish I could say I’d read most of the results, but I only had time to glance at a few articles. I consistently found reasons for leadership development program failure pinned on: lack of context setting; confusing training for development; and lack of real-world application.
Leadership development initiatives keep failing and companies keep spending tens of billions on these programs. Could it be that they’re missing one of the biggest components to a successful leadership development effort?
So what could be missing? I’m so glad you asked!
In my opinion, it’s the program sponsors (i.e., CEO, Senior Executive) who must model leadership development. That means being willing to participate in the assessment of their leadership abilities, competencies and behaviors. Do they have gaps? Can they demonstrate the skills and behaviors they’re expecting from their subordinates? Hmm….
They must be humble and transparent enough to admit skills gaps, and be open to coaching and development. This is tough to do, I understand, but it’s vital.
When the executive/senior leader becomes an active participant in the development process, they reap many benefits. The leader is able to:
- Model the way for developing leaders
- Have the credibility to hold others accountable
- Build vulnerability-based trust
- Avoid the appearance of leadership “hypocrisy”
Participation changes the context of the program from, “fix my leadership team”, to, “let’s develop the skills needed in this organization – at all levels”.
If you’re a leader who’s been disappointed by a failed leadership development initiative, take a step back. Look yourself in the eye and ask yourself the question – “Did I participate?”
You might be the missing link to leadership development success!