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Why leadership-development programs fail

Leadership Development

Leadership development is viewed as a current and future priority. Despite efforts to produce and nurture new leaders, only 7 percent of senior managers think that their companies develop global leaders effectively. Around 30 percent of US companies admit that they lack enough leaders with the right capabilities.

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Why leadership-development programs fail

Why leadership-development programs fail

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/why-leadership-development-programs-fail

mckinsey.com

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Key Ideas

Overlooking context

Many training initiatives assume that the same group of skills or leadership styles are suitable without considering the strategy or organizational culture of a company.

An excellent leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another. Focusing on context means equipping leaders with two or three competencies that will make a distinction to performance, rather than a list of leadership standards that is of no specific benefit.

Separate reflection from real work

Companies face a challenge when it comes to planning the program's curriculum.  Adults typically retain only 10 percent of what they hear in classroom lectures, but nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing. 

The answer seems straightforward: tie leadership development to real on-the-job projects. While it is not easy to create opportunities that simultaneously address high-priority needs, companies should strive to make every major business project a leadership-development opportunity as well.

Underestimating mindsets

Becoming a more effective leader means addressing and changing underlying mindsets. It often requires identifying some of the deepest thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs that are too often sidestepped in development programs.

For example, successful adoption of the value of delegation and empowerment is unlikely if the program participants have a “controlling” mind-set.

Failing to measure results

Many companies understand the importance of developing leadership skills but do not quantify the value of their investment.

Evaluation of leadership development can include:

  • Participant feedback that includes set targets.
  • Assessing the extent of behavioral change. Perhaps by a feedback exercise at the start of the program and again 12 months later.
  • Monitoring of participants' career development after the training.
  • Monitor the business impact. It might include cost savings or increased sales. Or, comparing the average productivity of participants' teams before and after a training program.

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Millennials expect to be developed via opportunities, mentoring, and stretch assignments. However that is hard to come by in top-heavy companies. 

Most millennials think their roles provide little development while most companies report they have excellent or adequate programs for Millennials.

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