Wednesday, 31 July 2013

7 Reasons Why You Are Spending Too Much on Leadership Development Programs

1. Customisation Most customised leadership programs are anything but. Getting big name university professors to change little more than the client logo on their PowerPoint presentations is just about impossible. Besides, most leadership theories have been well researched years ago so any quick changes or adaptations wouldn’t be robust! Keep this in mind next time you dish out tens of thousands of dollars on custom design.

2. Impact Seriously? A three / five / ten day event (that may be repeated) that is supposed to change mindsets and behaviours, make future leaders, configure your organisation for success, beat your competition, and so on? It may be a great experience (“Hey, the abseiling blindfolded off the building was life changing!”), but doesn’t really follow what works in adult education, or address embedding learning in the organisation where it is needed. Or have any real organisational impact.

3. Thought Leadership Beware Business Schools or practitioners who tout exclusivity (or IP) to the knowledge they’re dishing out. If it were well-researched and evidenced-based, it would be in the public domain. Save your money, and hire an intern to do some research for your L&D people seeking the latest thinking in leadership. Or Google it yourself.

4. Return on Investment See #2. No-one as ever found a positive direct causal link to an organisation’s performance from any leadership development intervention. So don’t believe anyone demonstrating the ROI on what they are offering, where revenues, efficiencies, productivity or market share is thrown up as a metric. There are just too many variables affecting a company’s performance – and how that is measured is many and varied! At best, you make managers aware of their behaviours, which may give them more control over them, and eventually make them more effective when dealing with people, change, strategy etc.. Basta!

5. Expert Practitioners Look, let’s face it….. improving leadership means you are trying to improve your organisation. Business Schools are in the research business – they are not consultants. And practitioners wouldn’t know how to run your organisation better. Otherwise they would. Don’t divorce leadership development from the challenge of changing and adapting your organisation. That’s got to come from within. From you.

6. 70:20:10 rule This little cliché basically means that most of what you learn is from doing it, informally, and reflecting on it within your team, workplace, and organisation. Duh! There are many cheap resources your L&D people can draw on to set this up quickly and efficiently (i.e. see Coaching Ourselves). So, it is a contradiction that someone outside your organisation can do this for you, especially if participants on leadership programs are not ready for change.

7. Coaching This is tricky. A coach will always do what’s best for the individual being coached. (And why do these guys still charge astronomical fees by the hour? Are they lawyers? C’mon!) Better to get managers to use a few simple coaching techniques to help get the most out of your people. If  that sounds restrictive and you think that coaching should deal with things larger than your organisation: get them a life coach! Or make sure that you look after your people’s well-being. It has been shown that the well-being of your employees is the one most significant ‘people’ factor that really impacts productivity.