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The Great Training Robbery

Optimize Blog - October 17, 2016 - 0 comments

One of the critical foundations of a successful and sustainable company is the ability to generate, nurture and regenerate talent on an ongoing basis. To enable this foundational fundamental many organizations turn to leadership training.
Much has been written about the subject and leadership training is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet the number of truly great leaders being developed and let loose on the business world is not having the effect that perhaps we expected. There seems to be a limited return on that investment.
As you might surmise, we have a view on this and first things first we should place our cards on the table and state our belief that leadership training courses simply do not work… To clarify, we believe that learning by doing is much more effective than static one way learning. Adjusting learning based on continuous feedback, coaching, mentoring, iterative interactions and having the ability to fail is exponentially more effective.
Our second comment would revolve around the lack of customization within many programs. Too many providers of leadership training try and sell you off the shelf, cookie cutter programs – it’s easier for them, it’s quicker and after the initial program development requires very little investment. But can a cookie cutter approach really work? Dealing just at the generic level cannot help the developing leader to apply the skills in an environment where success is often predicated on the nuances and subtleties of the industry and organization wherein they work.
In our view one size does not fit all and so the focus for development and coaching should be based upon what each individual needs to do and learn to be successful as a leader in their circumstances.
Last but not least, we feel that the best source of leadership development comes from the individuals own leader or group of leaders. That is a scary thought as you can conclude that poor leaders create even more poor leaders – the consequences of which are clear.
Do the leaders in your organization actually understand this dilemma? Do they know what needs to be done to improve the capability of staff within the organization and can they deliver that without the constraints of the politics, career ladders and other HR programs? Are they being held accountable for developing and regenerating talent? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then you have already entered the death spiral and are well on your way to destroying potential and therefore putting the organization at risk.
As we move into the discussions around budget for 2017 have you already set aside a percentage of the annual employee salary costs for training and if so, consider how much of that has been earmarked for leadership training. The fact is that the return on your investment from traditional leadership courses is unlikely to pay off and hoping that things will get better as a result is a false hope. Hope is a four letter word and it is certainly not a strategy.
Spending money on off the shelf, traditional, generic leadership courses simply does not work. It is time to think differently about how to develop the latent leadership potential within your organization. Don’t be a victim of the robbery, upgrade your security and recognize that Leadership development is not a one-off short-term activity and that a consistent multi-dimensional approach that is linked to the organizational culture and overall business aims has the best potential to deliver those all too important business results.

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