Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth?

Screen Shot 6ARE YOU GETTING the results you want from your leadership program? Or are you throwing money away? Here’s a short case study.

A mid-size bank wanted to find out whether their top leaders were more effective than those at lower levels. The findings were surprising. Only two of the 45 managers surveyed met the criteria for leadership effectiveness. And these two leaders were as far from the corporate office as you could imagine. They were both managing small rural branches, had limited organizational responsibilities and were not considered top talent.

Why two outstanding leaders were ‘in the boondocks’.

What was going on here? It seems that the typical response to managers who were willing to challenge the norms and who stirred things up was:

Oh those folks, for the most part, self-select out of the bank. And if they don’t, we just park them where they won’t cause too much trouble!”

This bank was, at the same time, investing thousands of dollars in leadership development. They had clearly defined the desired behaviors of their leaders such as challenging the status quo, speaking the truth and doing things in new ways. But, you wonder, if they were really ready to walk this talk.

resultsAll too often I come across executive teams who intuitively know they need their managers to become strong leaders. With high hopes, they invest considerable time and resources into a leadership development. These high potential leaders emerge from the program enthused and raring to go. But when they try to demonstrate their newly developed skills, they get either ignored or worst squashed.

Again, what’s going on here? Most likely, the managers of these high -pros started to feel uncomfortable with the new behaviors; they begin to question the cost or even the validity of the program. That leads to HR or the executive team to respond to respond to the criticism with:

“We’re taking a breather to tweak it a bit”” or “We just put in the new computer system and everyone needs the time to get their hands around it” or “It’s our busiest time of the year, let’s wait until things slow down.”

You probably know the outcome: the program gets shelved and now it’s time to start looking for the next leadership guru or fad.

[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#D8D8D8″ end_color=”#D8D8D8″ border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]If you truly want to develop future leaders for your organization:

  • Make sure senior management take an active role in every leadership development initiative. They can be guest speakers, mentors and even designers of the program. Their support must be visible, genuine and ongoing.
  • Define leadership success in terms of behaviors and results. If we want future leaders to “challenge the status quo”, what would they be doing? How would they manage their people and projects? How would their manager manage them?
  • Examine your present culture and figure out which elements facilitate specific leadership behaviors – and which might get in the way. For example, do we reward or punish those who question how we do things around here or bring new ideas to the table?
  • Provide support, feedback and coaching as these new or emerging leaders start implementing the key behaviors taught in the program. It’s been my experience that effective leadership development is not an event, a workshop or seminar; it’s a process of behavior change that takes time, personal commitment and positive reinforcement.[/message]

Smart Moves Tip:

Many executives do not take culture into account as they devise plans and strategies for developing leaders. One reason for this neglect is the difficulty that most people, including the top leaders, have in recognizing their own organizational cultures. But failing to acknowledge the crucial role culture plays in supporting or hindering the growth of strong leaders can be costly.

Do you know if you’re getting your money’s worth from your leadership development programs? Do you want to get a better ROI on the talent who leads your organization? Then, let’s talk!

My Motto Is:
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s monthly Execubrief: “Business Edge – Smart Growth Strategies” with a insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter – those that do well and do good.

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. Hello Marcia, insightful article, thanks.

    Until employers start hiring the people they should hire and stop hiring the people they like, leaders will be hard to find and nearly impossible to keep or create.

    Invisible Leaders are not invisible but they go unseen by managers and leaders who are blind to their own weaknesses.

    Great future employees and leaders do not suffer such blind managers and executives for too long.

    Managers and executives who want to raise their game will be more successful if they hire for job talent starting with the CEO.