Most successful organizations do not hesitate to invest in training their people to ensure proficiency in the technical skills required for their jobs. What is noticeably missing in many organizations, however, is investment in professional leadership development – that is, the ability to deal with people.
Have you seen any of the following indicators in your business: high turnover; ill-prepared managers; low employee morale; lack of trust; low customer-service ratings; difficulty recruiting talented people; low performance levels; or talented people not reaching their full potential?
If so, then the lack of an effective leadership development program is most likely at the heart of the problem.
There is high risk in the assumption that people inherently know how to lead other people. The rationale I often hear from leaders of organizations who choose to not invest in such efforts typically falls into three buckets. First is lack of firsthand experience by the executive team in quality leader development programs, resulting in the inability to appreciate the value of such programs. Second is the difficulty in measuring the return on investment for the training. Third is the lack of resources, namely time and money.
If you are interested in learning more about why you should invest in developing your people, read on!
WORLD-CLASS LEADERSHIP consultants Ken Blanchard, Marshall Goldsmith, Pat Lencioni, Stephen Covey and John Maxwell are all in synch in their findings and research: Training leaders is essential to building and sustaining high-performing organizations. Goldsmith’s best-selling book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There really focuses on how successful people can become even more successful by understanding and fixing behaviors that are holding them back. Learning from leadership professionals helps overcome lack of personal experience.
The U.S. military understands leader development in spades. It spends millions of dollars in developing leaders at all levels. As an officer in the Army, I attended a formal leadership program with just about every promotion, in addition to the mandatory leadership programs we had within our military units. When I was selected to command (“command” is like being the president/CEO of an organization) as a lieutenant colonel and colonel, the preparation training lasted four to six weeks – all of it executed before I ever moved into the position. This training was in addition to the many years of experience in developmental jobs designed to build competencies in the command position. This aggressive approach is why our nation’s military is the best-led on Earth.
My top four reasons for investing in a program to develop your leaders are:
• Caring. Send a clear message that the leadership cares about its people. It can be one of the most inspiring elements of your organization. Programs that include developing, mentoring and coaching can be the catalyst that ignites an organization into truly becoming a great place to work, while retaining and attracting good people.
• Performing. Improve the performance and capacity of an organization. Huge dividends can be achieved by addressing shortfalls in leadership skills derived from performance reviews, surveys and other assessments. Deliberate engagement with leaders, including those who are new or in transition, helps them learn the art and science of leadership, enabling the building of trust among people.
• Culture. Reinforce the culture and reputation of your organization. Opportunities are established that reinforce the expectations of behavior consistent with the vision, mission and values. Loyalty is built within the organization through being part of the team’s future, sharing ideas and building friendships with colleagues. It also can provide opportunities for enhancing communications between executives and their people.
• Navigating. Help people lead in challenging times. Effective leader development programs are even more critical during times of change, adversity, tragedy, reductions or reorganization efforts, and in other challenges that arise. In stressful times, it is critical to have leaders better skilled at navigating through these challenges, being more effective communicators with their people.
THERE ARE WAYS to measure the return on investment, but they require engagement by the leadership team. From direct engagement with those trained to careful observation of changes in behavior to ultimately measuring results in production, all are effective ways to measure the impact of such training.
Senior leaders owe their people the opportunity to learn and grow. I encourage you to assess where you are and determine how best to invest in your people.
I wish you the best in your leadership journey!
(The writer is a leadership consultant and an author. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is loralmountain.com.)