I believe that everyone is a leader.
Leadership is defined as the ability to influence others. Using that definition, everyone has the ability to influence, so everyone is a leader. Logically, it also means that everyone needs development.
Now, I do realize that some organizations consider leadership development to be a program designed exclusively for individuals who will hold a certain job title within the organization. But regardless of who the program is for, I hope we can agree that it needs to be effective.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently released a study on “The State of Leadership Development.” The results are rather startling.
- Only 7 percent of organizations believe their leadership development programs are best in class.
- Even among best in class programs, 40 percent of respondents feel that leadership development is only important – not fundamental – to business strategy.
How can the majority of people think leadership isn’t fundamental to strategy? I mean, we need people to develop the strategy and we need people to execute the strategy. The better they are; the better the strategy.
I will admit one of the key findings didn’t surprise me. Three-quarters of respondents believe leadership development needs to be more innovative in their learning techniques. However, in defense of learning professionals everywhere, I do believe that it takes time and resources to create “innovative learning techniques.” This shouldn’t be code for learning on the cheap.
The good news is this trend can be changed. Best in class leadership development programs have a significant impact on financial success (94%) and competitive performance (70%.) But obviously, to achieve those results involves not only a fantastic leadership development program but a truly supportive organization – both in terms of words, action, and resources.
The HBR study is very interesting and offers some benefits and solutions for organizations looking at their leadership pipeline. Finding leaders – really good leaders – is a challenge. Organizations are going to have to consider developing their own leaders for the future. That means deciding if you’re going to do it half-arsed or really well.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby at the Gainesville 34th Street Graffiti Wall0