- Miscalculating the “starting point
a.Too many leadership development initiatives we come across rest on the assumption that “one size fits all” and that the same group of skills, or style of leadership, is appropriate regardless of where the “starting point” is for the leadership population.
b.No “diagnostics” are completed to determine the issues, challenges and opportunities people in the organisation are facing – that the leadership team need to help people overcome.
c.Professional, structured, strictly private and confidential interviews, with people at varying levels within the organisation, will give priceless insights as to the “starting point” for any development programme. Here’s the thing: it’s usually nowhere near where you think it is!
- Overlooking the outcomes (hard or soft)
a.In the earliest stages of planning a leadership initiative, companies should ask themselves a simple question: what, precisely, are the outcomes we want to see? (hard and soft)
b.Focusing on outcomes inevitably means equipping leaders with a small number of competencies (two to three) that will maximise a leader’s likelihood of delivering the outcomes.
c.Staying focused on delivering the leadership skills to deliver on the outcomes avoids the usual “alphabet soup” of non-relevant leadership skills being delivered.
- Underestimating the power of ingrained attitudes and mind-sets
Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing one’s own behaviour and the behaviour of others. It’s not just about developing the skill; it’s about igniting a passion around developing the will (*the “want” to change)
Most companies recognise that this also means adjusting underlying attitudes and mind-sets. Too often these organisations are reluctant to address the root causes of why leaders act the way they do.
Doing so can be uncomfortable for participants, programme facilitators, coaches and bosses – but, if there isn’t a significant degree of ‘measured’ discomfort, the chances are that the behaviour won’t change.
This needs to be balanced with building a positive belief about their ability to make the changes – and succeed at delivering the outcomes.
In any development programme, especially one with a focus on leadership, “you can’t take people to a place they don’t believe exists”. Build the belief, total belief, first … the skills will surely follow.
- Failing to follow up … to ensure key learnings are transferred into the workplace
Companies often pay lip service to the importance of developing leadership skills, but have no evidence of them being transferred into the workplace and making positive improvements on the KPI dashboard. This makes it impossible to measure the ROI.
If businesses fail to track and measure changes in leadership performance, over time they increase the odds that improvement initiatives won’t be taken seriously.
Regular “on the job” professional coaching, over a six or twelve month period, is the most effective way to embed the learning into performance improvements.
A 360 degree feedback exercise, at the beginning of a programme, followed by another one after 6 to 12 months, can also be effective and insightful.