That is why leadership development programs do not bring the intended results

Today's leaders need many tools to help them lead or manage their increasingly complex organizations. Contemporary leaders also arrange their own continuing education programs, arranging external trainings, participating in webinars, tuning in to TED talks, and following the achievements of men and women they have identified as gurus.

programy rozwoju przywództwa Business Insider Norbert Biedrzycki August-07

My article in BUSINESS INSIDER published 7thof August 2018.


Theoretically, leader effectiveness and performance should be improving. But it is not, as testified to by the leaders themselves and their subordinates. Of the more than 500 executives McKinsey polled in 2016, only 11 percent agreed with the statement that “their leadership-development interventions achieve and sustain the desired results.”


What is going wrong? Are leaders simply unable to translate the knowledge they acquire into day-to-day practice, or is the knowledge they gain too far removed from reality to be useful? Or, perhaps the problem lies in companies whose structures, habits and processes are so stuck in concrete that even the most ambitious leadership development projects cannot overcome the organization’s inertia.


But things are not hopeless. The respondents to the McKinsey survey identified four fundamental factors that will lead to both the organizational and personal success of any leadership program.


1. Leaders need to know the priorities…

One key consideration raised by the respondents is the organization’s ability to translate its strategy into a leadership model. In other words, the organization’s priorities must be clearly identified in consultation with leaders. This will help them act in ways that reflect the organization’s most pressing needs and thereby increase their chances of success. To me as a leader, the ability to agree on and understand objectives is essential. To help my organization succeed, I need to know its key aims. I also need to know whether, for instance, its priority at a given time is to support acquisitions or organic growth. An effective leadership program should provide me with such knowledge.


2. But so, does everyone else

Another key success factor for leadership programs is their reach. The ideas they provide should not be disseminated exclusively to leaders. A good leadership program should extend across many levels of the organization. Only then will it create an environment that encourages people to embrace change. A leadership development program whose reach is broad will help leaders by helping the people who work for and with them understand better the intentions behind their actions.


3. Get out of the classroom

The effectiveness of leadership development programs hinges largely on the methods employed to spread learning throughout the organization. Rather than fitting leaders into the old teacher-student model, sitting in a classroom, it is far better to leverage case studies and real-life situations from their business practice. This will allow them to place any newly-acquired knowledge in the context of their daily tasks, helping them to see its relevance. An effective leadership program should work to reduce the distance between theory and practice. The technology available to companies should make this possible. After all, there are so many channels that can be used to bring curricular content to leaders.


4. Embracing change

Organizations should assure their leaders that they are prepared to make the changes that emerge organically from their learnings. This, after all, is the whole point of an effective leadership development program, and a key to innovation: allowing leaders to deploy the ideas developed in their training to effect organizational change – that is the desired outcome of the training. Consequently, the organization should be ready to relax or alter its established models if it wants its leaders to feel their participation in a leadership development program is truly meaningful. There is nothing more frustrating for leaders than having to admit to co-workers that the process they are all involved in is at bottom a charade.


Read more in the full article.


Link to the full article (in Polish)


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Leave a Reply


  1. Zoeba Jones

    I like the concept, but as a society we need to step up and hold these giants accountable. Can’t be taxpayers’ responsibility to monitor this maze. Airbnb needs to enforce compliance or be fined in the same way a normal hotel would.
    Then we have real innovation. I’m sure it would still work, but grow more slowly, and we would avoid a race to the bottom in safety/labour rights/environmental standards/tax compliance and more

  2. Norbert Biedrzycki  

    Real reasons for technology disruptions. So true 🙂

    • Adam Spark Two

      There really is no way of getting around it. Sooner or later companies are going to have to embrace millennial leaders. After all, the ones that came before are going to keep retiring. Even before that happens, the old guard going to start losing touch with what an ever-growing group of customers wants, needs and pays attention to.

      • Acula

        Indeed. In the expanding world of the Internet of Things, entrepreneurs would be better off to remember two old adages: Resistance is futile, and if you can’t beat them join them. No matter its predicted benefit, the notion of change is hard to accept because people are settled into comfort zones and face resistance based on the status quo. Profiting from your information might be the best selling point. After all, everyone else will benefit from your data. Why not you?

  3. TomCat

    Don’t forget: sadly not having a level playing field in terms of (f.e.) taxes, labour laws, salaries and user-data-usage was one of the most important drivers of the tremendous success of these companies.

  4. Karel Doomm2

    As the business landscape persistently grows in competitive intensity, every organizational member must be smarter. Therefore, continuous learning will be at the forefront of management’s agenda to gain and sustain a competitive advantage. Learning will not be confined to formal training performed within the business.

  5. TomHarber

    Industry leaders, such as Apple and Amazon, are recognizing how working from home helps acquire and retain top talent. But this is just one part of the equation. In 2019, companies will recognize that work-life blend is key. They won’t just opt for bean bag chairs and ping pong tables, but create jobs and schedules that allow staff to better blend their work and lives to reduce burnout and increase output.

    • Simon GEE

      Goals matter – and where they are set say much about how big the vision is of those who set them. Set safe goals and you may reach them, but will you ever know what you could have done? Big goals might not be reached, but they challenge thinking and approach in ways that would never have been concerned possible.

      • SimonMcD

        Absolutely true Norbert Biedrzycki – In almost all cases listed above, and many others, the companies or industries that tried to avoid change, keep the status quo and manifest their market position or monopoly made room for disruption. Even here in Africa. The Hospitality and Tourism Industry is overdue for disruption but most non-africans don’t even see the opportunity and the existing businesses are happy to keep no longer sustainable business models in place, to the absolute disadvantage of the destination and its business and people. It is high time to change how African destinations do business and gain back control on their visibility and distribution. It is a no-go to further give away 60-80% of the profit to overseas middlemen, not contributing to the destination.

  6. SimonMcD

    I don’t ask this just to be confrontational (and sorry if it reads that way), it’s just… that I’m entertaining in the back of my mind, the possibility that this assumption may be an anti-pattern. I have… anecdotes to suggest this, but no real hard data of sufficient diversity and extension to suggest statistical significance.
    My intuition says that there would be advantages to such collective ownership of all the systems in a company… but at the same time, I have a hard time reconciling this with my experience – most team-sets that I’ve seen try this have had a hard time. Of course, the causes may have been other.

    • John Accural

      Alternatively, investment management companies can leverage advanced natural language generation (NLG) to automatically write investment commentary that notifies their investors about the performance of their funds. Through applying this form of AI, investment managers can publish reports in real-time and share them with their distribution channels, thereby saving time and money analyzing data and producing these reports. Best of all, these reports can also be tailored to each individual investor.

  7. Simon GEE

    A leader cannot be successful if they do not know how to communicate effectively – but there are also many other qualities which they need. Leaders need to show, not just tell. Even Richard Branson said,” Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess”. Most problems can be solved with some good, honest and open conversations. But if you are a leader your communication skills are absolutely vital to also inspire your employees, keep them happy and engaged and dazzle your customers and investors.

  8. TonyHor

    One of the questions is “who will pay for reskilling in World of declining loyality of employee?” Do you see change in paterns at that area?