The Gaps in Leadership Development Programs
Monday, August 29, 2016 5:50:57 PM

The army cannot function without generals; similarly, organizations cannot work without leaders. For the smooth and effective functioning of an organization, there should be proper guidance, which can come from only experienced and skilled individuals having the capability to lead. Leaders motivate employees, enhance their dedication to organizational goals, and devise strategic plans for the future. With growing organizational requirements, the demand for people with leadership skills is on the rise, making it essential for companies to introduce leadership development programs. It is true that everyone does not have the inherent charisma or genetically fueled force to lead. Therefore, leaders are made.

A leadership development program details out goals, competencies, capabilities, and experiences of successful leaders in the organization. These details assist in the selection of several leadership development programs. By providing leadership development training programs, companies can make impressive strides in developing strengths, leadership and management skills, and personality traits in their employees.

Leadership development programs can help employees—both at the management and executive levels—in more ways than one. Some benefits of these programs are as follows:

    • Such programs encourage present and future leaders

  • They revamp the leadership style within an organization

  • They improve the present leadership style

  • They help budding leaders by setting their goals, thereby leading them to higher achievements
  • Such programs provide aspiring leaders with an opportunity to nurture their skills set

No doubt, benefits associated with these training programs are immense. However, quite shockingly, half of these programs fail to meet their objectives. Organizations have been pumping in a great deal of money and time to nurture future leaders. According to McKinsey, firms in the US spend nearly $14 billion per annum on leadership development. However, most of these organizations are found to have failed to implement successful leadership programs. It indicates that there exist gaps in leadership development programs, which need to be identified and addressed in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Some of the major pitfalls in leadership development programs are as follows:

Digressing from the context

Most of the training programs assume that the same set of skills or leadership style would fit all irrespective of organizational goals, cultures, or strategies. However, this is not true. Companies should have a clear idea of what they aim to achieve through these programs right at the beginning. Further, training programs should be customized as per every company’s individual goals and missions.

Segregating the real work from reflection

Companies should have a very well-laid-out curriculum for the leadership program in order to strike a balance between offsite and onsite programs.

Although both the programs have their unique advantage, offsite programs make it possible for participants to get the time off from the work pressure and get an opportunity to learn in a classroom-based environment. On the other hand, onsite programs offer learning by doing, thereby facilitating better retention and the implementation of the knowledge gained. The problem here is that real-on-the-job projects, which cater to both personal development opportunities and effective business functioning, are hard to develop. Therefore, the most appropriate combination is to offer a real-work experience and training opportunity that can push these participants to reflect.

Altering perspectives

At times, turning someone into a leader would require bringing about behavioral modifications by identifying the person’s beliefs, feelings, and other personal traits, which are usually essential to change his/her perspectives. Each participant, therefore, should have an open mindset to adopt the virtues being coached. But this attempt to change the mindset brings in a substantial amount of discomfort among trainers, bosses, and participants. This feeling is considered fundamental to the change of behavior and achieve new levels of leadership performance.

Miscalculating results

It is essential to set the target and monitor results for the success of any program—be it business or leadership. Usually, leadership development starts and stops with the feedback of participants. The importance of quantifying the investments in such programs is immense, which could be done through numerous methods, including a 360-degree feedback at the beginning of the program that will be followed by another after a gap of 6 to 12 months. Some other methods are like keeping an eye on participants’ career graph following the completion of the training, measuring the impact of the training program on business functions, and so on. However, most of the time, the feedback mechanism of such training programs is considered just a formality. Therefore, their effectiveness cannot be measured.

Given the above-mentioned points, it is easily understandable that if companies pay heed to these aspects, it will be possible for them to avoid making obvious mistakes and enhance their chances of devising successful leadership programs.