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Leadership Development – The Urgent Need For A Major Paradigm Shift

  1. FUNCTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS AND COMPETITIVENESS (e.g. MANUFACTURING)

Audience:    Functional (Manufacturing) Executive and Department Heads

Pre Work:    Each Department head Identifies their key quantitative industry standards, the current primary plans, and programs used to meet or exceed them, along with the existing reporting tools used to measure their status versus the standards.

Hard Skills:  Purchasing

                   Production

                   Inventory Control

                   Quality Control

                   Manufacturing Engineering

                   Warehousing and Distribution

Soft Skills:    Interdepartmental Teamwork and Cooperation

                    Need for Manufacturing Innovation

                    Motivating and communicating the entire organization

                    Leading a functional renaissance

Business Value Outcome:  In a workshop setting, each Department Head identifies their quantitative industry measures and the needed departmental objectives, plans and innovative practices that are required for functional and overall Manufacturing improvement.

  1. PROFIT IMPROVEMENT

Audience:    Business Unit President and Immediate Functional Executives

Pre Work:   Each executive brings their fiscal year operating objectives and current plans, schedules, risks, challenges, and budgetary data.

Hard Skills:   Market Segment Penetration

                    Sales Opportunities

                    Purchasing Efficiencies

                    Product Cost Opportunities

                    Manufacturing Cost Efficiencies

                    Product quality improvements

                    Customer Service Efficiencies

Soft Skills:    Functional Teamwork and Cooperation

                    Innovation Implementation

                    Motivating the entire organization towards improvement

                    Leading the Profit Improvement Plan Implementation

Business Value Outcome:  In a workshop setting, the Business Unit President and his/her functional executives develop a cooperative multi-functional plan to achieve profit improvement through increased sales, better market penetration, and product and operational innovation.

To be considered as important and relevant by their ultimate customer in providing business value to the company, such LD programs must reinforce the above mix of soft and hard skills, and not simply deal with leadership soft skills.  This is especially true for the LD programs for senior and upper management. In doing so, the newly acquired hard and soft skills should be TAUGHT TOGETHER in a workshop approach within the practical context of the executive’s actual business objectives, strategies, plans, challenges, and risks.  These programs can be designed and developed by LD staff working in conjunction with outside consultants, business school staff and inside experts, who can also help to conduct the training itself.  These experts can present the best-of-the-best successful and innovative business practices and programs so that the attending leaders can discuss their applicability in meeting some of their current business objectives.

While the LD programs in the vast majority of companies deal primarily with soft skill development, some companies, such as GE, offer a pragmatic mix of LD programs in their Crotonville leadership institute.  This recognizes the fact that we cannot effectively teach leadership in a vacuum; devoid of the required hard skills.  This reality begs the question of who is responsible for leading this major paradigm shift?  Is it the leadership gurus, the Chief HR Officer or the Chief Learning Officer?  I contend that it is not the leadership gurus because they are providing their services to meet the training needs expressed by their customer.  Rather, the primary responsibility for doing so rests with the Chief HR Officer while the secondary responsibility rests with the Chief Learning Officer.

Now, is developing such a program easy?  No.  Can it be done well and within a reasonable amount of cost?  Absolutely.  Does it require a new business-like mindset on the part of HR and LD leaders?  Absolutely.  Will doing so require more time and effort to develop the program content?  Yes.  Will the CEO and line executives greatly appreciate the pragmatic program content and more actively support future LD programs?  Absolutely.

Therefore, in order to develop such urgently needed LD programs, the Chief HR Officer faces the monumental challenge of redirecting the company’s Learning and Development staff and programs for senior and upper management AWAY from simplistic leadership styles, interpersonal and basic management skills, and TOWARDS being pragmatic business change agents for meeting some of the company’s major business objectives.

If accomplished, such LD programs will provide real BUSINESS VALUE to the company by providing LD programs that offer the right mix of hard and soft skills, taught together, within the practical context of the leader’s real-world business objectives, plans, strategies, risks, challenges and so on.

When this occurs, the Learning and Development function will be revitalized as it achieves the implementation of this major paradigm shift.  However, if this paradigm shift is not accomplished, many years from now, the Chief HR and Learning Officers will still be wondering why CEOs and top line management executives are saying that their LD programs are failing the company in their eyes.

Jack Bucalo
Jack Bucalo
JACK has led the Global HR function for a Fortune 500 and 1000 international company and several other large international companies. With four years of line experience complementing his HR experience, he believes that the CHRO or HR Leader should play a more direct role in helping the CEO to achieve the company's business objectives and strategic goals, while effectively implementing its administrative duties. In doing so successfully, the CHRO or HR Leader can become an equal business partner with his/her line management peers while becoming more directly involved in the company's operational mainstream, rather than being just an administrative afterthought. As a pragmatic practitioner, Jack publishes detailed and actionable articles on a wide variety on critically-important HR issues on BIZCATALYST 360°. He is also on the advisory board for other web sites. Jack's over 20 years of executive-level HR experience for which he was responsible for company, executive and Board-related matters, form the basis for most of viewpoints.

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