Leadership Development Not “Working”? Here’s Why.

Leadership Development is a lever we love to pull...and then love to hate. Because it didn't pay off.

HR and business leaders alike are often disappointed in the ROI (not) delivered by their programs. So they blame the programs. Now, could the programs have been better? Nearly always. But the biggest reasons leadership programs don't gain traction, don't drive behavior change have little to do with the program's content.

The real challenge, the truest obstacle, is the organization itself. We are nearly always standing in our own way.

Whatever skill or capability a company is striving to instill and unleash in its leaders can only come to life in a ready organization. But often, I see things like:

  • A program designed to tap into a collective capability for #innovation will teach #leaders some innovation frameworks to use with their #teams. BUT...the organization doesn't make space for #experimentation or is quick to punish #failure. So leaders don't innovate and the program takes the blame.
  • A program designed to inspire leaders to do more #coaching with their teams delivers yet another framework or model. BUT...the organization doesn't help these leaders #prioritize their work, so they have no time to coach. OR executive leaders aren't  role modeling the practice, so no one coaches. And the program takes the blame.
  • A program designed to unlock stronger #communication across the organization is designed and delivered. Leaders learn the tools. They may even practice. BUT the organization isn't providing access to basic information and context. So leaders are ill-equipped to deliver the message. And the program takes the blame.

The common theme is organizational readiness. Before we scapegoat leadership development we have to ask - have we created the conditions in which this program can enable real #change?

I'm biased. Leadership Development is much of my business. I know from experience how beautifully it works when delivered within a ready system. So when your program isn't "working," before you blame the program (because not all programs are created equal!) do a Pulse Check on your system. How ready is it?

Related: We Put the EX in EXplicit