Magazine article Talent Development

How Do We Fix Our Leadership Crisis? the Leadership Pipeline Has Sprung a Leak; Five Ways to Reverse the Trend

Magazine article Talent Development

How Do We Fix Our Leadership Crisis? the Leadership Pipeline Has Sprung a Leak; Five Ways to Reverse the Trend

Article excerpt

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Leadership development is a booming industry-nearly $15 billion is spent yearly on numerous sources, including higher education, learning and development firms, consulting firms, individual consultants, books, and resources. But study after study says leadership development is not effective, senior leaders don't believe it works, and we are not preparing successors to move up the ladder.

Why are HR and senior business leaders saying it's not working? What are we doing and what can we do to gain some incremental improvements in our leadership development efforts? Five factors can help strengthen leadership development: top management commitment, managerial support, evaluation, coaching reinforcement and application, and the right content and delivery.

Leadership development surveys

According to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report:

* 86 percent of HR and business leaders see leadership shortfalls as a top-three issue.

* 51 percent believe the issue is urgent.

* Just 6 percent of executives say they feel "very ready" to meet their leadership needs.

Other leading surveys and organizations agree. CEB reports that "63% of leaders lack the required abilities to achieve success today." PwC found that "81% of CEOs rate leadership development programs as less than highly effective." And the Institute for Corporate Productivity states that "Only 32% of mid-managers exhibit behaviors consistent with the global capabilities their organizations deem most important."

Lastly, a survey by my company, Advance Learning Group, found that 83 percent of organizations do not have an adequate leadership pipeline for the next five years.

What's wrong?

The way we develop leaders needs to change. But for now, five key factors can help you ensure your current leadership development efforts are as successful as they can be and help reverse some of these statistics and trends.

Top management commitment. Too often top management just funds leadership initiatives. To get payback for this investment, they need to do far more to ensure it fits with their leadership competency model (and create a leadership competency model for the organization if it doesn't exist), demand metrics to determine effectiveness, and be sure that what is being learned through leadership development ties into the goals and direction of the organization.

Managerial support. Providing managerial and organizational support is vital. If it's not on managers' radars, if they don't discuss and support the learning, it fades away too quickly as work and business needs overcome any learning that occurred. It's up to each leader's manager to support the use of new behaviors and skills in the job and workplace.

Evaluation. We are offering leadership development in a vacuum without demanding or expecting any tangible results. What gets measured gets done, and so if leadership development efforts are not measured and held accountable, it's little wonder that they aren't seen as effective. Any measurement is typically at Levels 1 and 2, missing the critical Levels 3, 4, and 5, where we can better determine effectiveness.

Coaching, reinforcement, and application.

We are developing leaders in the same one-size-fits-all strategy that is done with cheap clothing. How often does that work? Does that make sense when the success of your organization is on the line? Tools such as application and action learning projects, along with coaching and 360 or multi-rater assessments, all provide a more custom fit.

Content and delivery. Content and delivery must be customized in the sense that they must be a fit for your organizational culture, style, values, and beliefs. In addition to aligning with your direction and strategy, this would better ensure that the content and delivery drives your organization toward the goals you want to achieve. …

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