23rd March 2017

4 reasons why leadership development programs fail

We know how integral leadership development is—and not only to the career progression of our executives and leaders, but to the organisation as a whole. As managers, we invest large sums of money to send our best talent to these programs, hoping they enhance their skills, and to ultimately influence our organisational success.

Unfortunately, even the most inspiring executive leadership training programs fall flat at times…leaving organisations no better off than when then started.

So why is it that, with all best intentions, so many executive development programs fail?

To be honest, there’s a few reasons, and if you aren’t taking them into account when selecting a development program, your organisation will more than likely encounter them at some stage. But the good news is that this needn’t be the case. We’ve put together the main reasons why leadership development programs fail – and how to keep your executive development on track by avoiding them.

 

1. Failure to apply real world scenarios

We know how integral leadership development is—and not only to the career progression of our executives and leaders, but to the organisation as a whole. As managers, we invest large sums of money to send our best talent to these programs, hoping they enhance their skills, and to ultimately influence our organisational success.

Unfortunately, even the most inspiring executive leadership training programs fall flat at times…leaving organisations no better off than when then started.

So why is it that, with all best intentions, so many executive development programs fail?

To be honest, there’s a few reasons, and if you aren’t taking them into account when selecting a development program, your organisation will more than likely encounter them at some stage. But the good news is that this needn’t be the case. We’ve put together the main reasons why leadership development programs fail – and how to keep your executive development on track by avoiding them.

 

2. Failure to set an end-goal

In the early stages of planning a leadership initiative, companies should ask themselves a simple question: what precisely is this program for?

If the answer is to support an acquisition-led growth strategy, for example, then the organisation will probably need leaders brimming with ideas and winning strategies for growth.

If the answer is to facilitate change within the organisation, what that change might look like needs to be clarified from the start.

We know that at times, the program may just be about recognition and development for the future, a type of developmental ‘payback for hard work or good results’. Even so, this end goal can inform program design, delivery methods and the expectations of change after the program ends.

Without a goal to work towards, your executive talent won’t know which untrodden path to lead your team down.

 

3. Failure to harness the right mindset for change

Some programs include plenty of exercises around presenting as a leader with charisma, and communicating with teams with authority and credibility, but don’t focus enough on changing entrenched mindsets by dealing with participants’ underlying thoughts, feelings and assumptions on their approach.

These leaders are pressured to make big impacts, face issues head on, and be able to overcome intrapersonal and interpersonal challenges. Programs that delve deeper into self-awareness, personal grounding, self-confidence and learning how to be truly authentic will better equip participants to get themselves in the right mental place to take on a new or confronting change.

 

4. Failure to follow through with implementation

The development curriculum is only part of the picture—in reality, the best executive leadership programs teach individuals how to implement change long after they’ve completed a course.

Yet sadly, many companies spend large amounts of money investing in executive leadership development programs that fail to follow through once the training ends. Senior leaders are expected to return fully experienced and ready to transform organisation…only to be met with no support by the rest of their peers and the board.

Other times, the organisation has archaic systems that resist the changes learned during these leadership programs. We must remember that leadership is about moving people forward, pushing ahead, and working towards a vision.

It’s not about keeping things the way they’ve always been, with zero change. So before sending executives away on bootcamp, take a moment to question whether you’ve put the infrastructure in place to support new ideas once they return.

The kind of support we’re talking about includes: aligning company values and structures to support your future leaders, providing the necessary resources and measuring outcomes, giving them the authority to execute new ideas and create positive change.

Without these factors, executives will eventually lose enthusiasm and consider moving on to a different organisation that will support their vision..

 

Set people up for success—with the right leadership pathways

A future leader can often be identified from the moment their resume lands on your desk. But not always. Sometimes we overlook potential talent — purely because they haven’t been given the right opportunities to develop and succeed.

At Generator Talent Group, we’ve been designing and facilitating executive leadership development programs for more than nine years. During that time, we’ve identified the common traps that often cause these programs to fail, and tackled them head on with a program that goes beyond leadership development, and supports executives all the way through to practical implementation and organisational change.

Created in conjunction with Harold Hillman at Sigmoid, our Accelerating Executive Presence program hones in on the eight primary qualities effective leaders possess. Our approach balances the needs and motivations of the individual with the organisation as a whole, aiming to find a natural alignment of their goals.

Importantly, it looks further than coaching a participant on their interaction within the organisation—instead, encouraging them to begin with self-awareness, connecting with their own values, gaining complete confidence, and learning how to build trust…

Before you go on a leadership development program, we recommend you first take a moment to reflect on your past leadership experiences. Discovering where you need to develop further can accelerate your growth as a leader.

To give you an action plan, we’ve put together an easy-to-use worksheet – Taking Stock of Your Development – to get a clear view of past development experiences and the next step you should take to improve your leadership skills. Click below to download it today.

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Glen Petersen

Glen Petersen

CEO at Generator Talent
With more than 35 years in business, working in large global businesses and consulting, Glen has a wise head set firmly on experienced shoulders – a good thing to have as Generator Talent’s founder and CEO. He is in demand by clients who value his pragmatic advice and ability to positively influence people and improve business outcomes.
Glen Petersen

Categories: Developing Talent

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