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.