Tag Archives: leadership programs

Stop Wasting Money on Leadership Development and do Something Different.Part 1

The past few years have seen a greater focus on leadership development perhaps not surprisingly after the GFC fall out, but what is the return on investment? In September 2011 IEDP, in association with Deloitte’s Leadership practice, surveyed over 300 executives on their perceptions and experiences of leadership development. The results were disappointing if not unsurprising. Just 7.9% of leaders rated their current leadership as very effective and a 4.3% their leadership development as very effective

So why so much dissatisfaction over leadership development?

The Leadership by Design view is that in spite of 20 years of research and identification of clear adult learning principles this understanding is not being effectively translated into business leadership development design and practice.

Check out our free 22 page E Book Leadership Strategy Demystified here

We believe there are a number of factors, so in this short article let’s start with perhaps the most important thing to incorporate into your design of any leadership intervention.

How to Facilitate a personal motivation to change?

Learning has to be thought of as a personal change process. Leaders only commit to development that they can see a personal pay off for. When asked in the Deloitte survey what development is most effective for leaders? the overwhelming response (60%)was creating a  personal development plan , or (47%) development  aligned with their own career aspirations. These high preferences have also been echoed in previous Corporate Executive Council Research.

The bottom line is if you want to roll out company wide leadership capability building programmes you have to find out about and work with the individual agendas of your trainees and not just the company agenda .

Neuroscience tells us the same thing: we are hard wired to prefer to be autonomous and we have a preference  for our own ideas . Clearly the most effective learning is self-directed.

Also, we need to acknowledge that change is hard at an individual human brain level. Most people are experts at rationalising their own behaviours and finding excuses/reasons  not to change. Leaders need to be actively helped to understand themselves their impact on others and their strengths and weaknesses. They need to develop a mental model of how they could be better or improve and they need to see a clear benefit for embarking on that journey.

Without that clarity motivation and engagement  is inconsistent at best, as is learning application.

If we want to generate real business impact from our leadership development interventions we believe we need to design in 2 things:

  1. To incorporate individualised activities that take account of the learners goals
  2. Treat the leadership development intervention  as an organisational change activity.

Practically that means designing in some or all of the following :

  • Thinking around how the leadership intervention is communicated and contextualized,
  • How all stakeholders are co-opted to support the change,
  • Using feedback, diagnostic  and reflective  tactics to help leaders clarify for themselves where they are and where they need to be.
  • Helping leaders to plan and systemise their action
  • Providing support mechanisms to help them keep focused and learning from their experiences.

You may think some of the above is common sense . All we can say is that we agree with Voltaire “Common sense is not common”  In our experience Leaders have already invested heavily in their existing behaviours and need some help in reflecting and clarifying for themselves why changing might be a good idea going forward.

Not to recognize how important this is for learning is liable to mean you are wasting your organisation’s money and time .

Unclear on your best leadership development approach?

We are happy to offer you a free no obligation white board and coffee session to help you get clearer on your questions and possible solutions. Click here to contact us

Is Investing in Leadership Worth the Hype?

leadership impactOk a slightly provocative question perhaps?  But do we think of leadership development as a necessary “retention cost” or an investment in culture and organisational performance?

Comprehensive research presented at the Future Jobs Forum in Australia in October 2011 identified that positive leaders and progressive management practices are central to increasing productivity in the workplace.

An 18 month Australian landmark study by the Society for Knowledge Economics, found that companies with strong leadership and a positive workplace culture are significantly more productive and profitable than their less progressive peers.

The report – Leadership, Culture and Management Practices of High Performing  Workplaces: The High Performing Workplace Index –followed 18 months of research involving more than 5,000 employees. The report found that High Performing Workplaces (HPWs) have 12 per cent higher productivity than Low Performing Workplaces (LPWs) when ranked in terms of their innovation, employee engagement, fairness, leadership and customer satisfaction.

What’s more, it found that the quality of an organisation’s leaders and their ability to innovate and create positive employee experiences was directly related to the organisation’s financial performance and productivity –

the average profit margins of HPWs are three times higher than those of LPWs.

The study demonstrates that leaders in higher performing organisations prioritise people management as a key priority, involve their people in decision making processes; are more responsive to customer and stakeholder needs;  these more effective leaders also encourage a high degree of responsiveness to change and learning orientation, and enable their staff to fully use their skills and abilities at work.
The identified high performing organisations are not just much more profitable and productive, they also perform better in many important “intangible attributes”, such as encouraging innovation, leadership of their people, and creating a fair workplace environment.

This was a landmark report when it was released and it provides some interesting measures of leadership impact .

Check out the full report here

As someone who has been working within or consulting to organisations for many years, it still astonishes me that the concept of Leaders and the environment they create having an impact on the performance of their organisation is seemingly a revolutionary idea.  Talk to any employee of a large organisation for any length of time and they will be very clear for you what impact their Leaders and Managers have on them and their motivation and capability to be successful.

So why aren’t more organisations focusing on the key leadership attributes and management practices that improve productivity and profit?

Well there are probably a number of reasons from budget pressures to competing priorities or a lack in confidence in training and development return on investment.

Whatever the excuse, under investing in your leadership capability carries a huge opportunity cost. I  passionately believe (and always have) that building leadership capability through properly designed leadership programmes has a huge impact on  change agility, engagement, organisational and team performance, it looks like the research continues to back this up!

Not sure on how best to develop your leaders’ capabilities to turn  your organization into a High Performing Workplace? Well we are happy to offer you a free no obligation white board and coffee session to help you get clearer on your questions and possible solutions. Click here to contact us