The issue with current leadership development programs is that participants spend a whirlwind 3-5 days in formal training (or worse, a series of e-learning webinars), learning tools, skills, and concepts, and are then expected to take this back to their job to apply it all. However, when they return to the office, they are faced with their ever-growing list of to-dos and they rarely have access to the necessary coaching and encouragement needed to see the application of their learnings through to fruition.
By increasing learning from others--including peers, coaches, and mentors--adding frequent learning opportunities with enough time for application--more of a learning journey than a week of workshops--and developing leaders at all levels of the organization and not just the upper echelons--organizations can not only see results, they can measure them.
LEAP - the Leadership Acceleration Program, was created with these same principles in mind, all-the-way back in 2002. Our 12-month program takes participating members on a leadership learning journey where they share and problem solve with peers; receive professionally facilitated formal learning and 1:1 coaching; build a personal development plan; and are held accountable for commitments they make to implement their new skills and tools in their real-world environment. With strategically administered assessments conducted throughout the year, they receive the feedback they need to personalize their journey, and most importantly, confidence that they are on the right track. Our proprietary assessment data shows measurable growth in confidence and skills, and proves that LEAP - the Leadership Acceleration Program works.
New LEAP cohorts are starting soon. If you or someone you know is looking to make the transformation from manager to leader, find out more about LEAP.
We are building a network of collaborative professional coaches and consultants to help us expand the reach of LEAP into new markets. If you are an executive coach or management consultant looking to grow your business by adding a proven leadership development program to your service offerings, join us at the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration.
AUTHOR: Winsor Jenkins, LEAP Certified Coach, Portland
Recently I read two articles published in the Association for Talent Development's (ATD) Training & Development Magazine (December 2014). The articles were: Reflections On Leadership - and Seeking Answers On The Lackluster State of Leadership.
Both articles were relatively short, yet pithy in describing what's wrong with leadership development today. For me the following points really struck a chord that needs to be played over and over for things to change on this "sheet of music" in the future.
The article, Reflections On Leadership, identified some common themes on why leadership development programs don't work: (1) treating leadership development as a one-and-done event; (2) failing to help leaders apply what they learned during training on the job; and (3) plain irrelevance. The article also mentions that, "organizations often lack a sustainability plan...called a 'learning journey' approach that continues to build learners' knowledge."
Two key takeaways in the article, Seeking Answers...spoke to how learners learn...making the point that, "a greater emphasis on 'effective interactions' needs to be included to develop leaders...and that leaders who spend more time interacting are more effective at many leadership skills." Second, "organizations can attack these barriers by making training courses more like the job and the job more like the training courses."
Based on my long-standing history in the leadership development space, I believe both articles are spot-on in describing what's wrong with many leadership development efforts. With that said, is the stage set to change chords and play new music?
What's your take on this? What, if anything, needs to be added to this critique?
The Internet is a fascinating tool for connecting people to information on-demand; opportunities abound for learning with the Internet! However, as with anything, moderation is key. With the growth in teleworking and globalization, it's only natural that leadership executives look at e-learning as a way to deliver information for employees to learn. As a result, we've seen organizations of all sizes roll-out, or subscribe to, robust e-Learning and online-based skill-building learning programs.
It is nothing but good intentions that have resulted in e-Learning gaining so much momentum across the board. The ability to connect more people to more information to help them improve and learn is a good idea--in theory--but in reality it has created a culture of learning that is more about checking boxes than about really developing talent and leadership within an organization.
e-Learning does not work because leadership development cannot occur from simply reading a book, taking a web class, or learning theory. While skills development and theory are an important supplemental component, leadership development requires a complex, holistic approach that includes:
Thus, while e-Learning provides a perception of progress, because training has been delivered, it is failing organizations by not providing actual results. When organizations then struggle with leadership teams that cannot innovate, motivate, or communicate, while they watch their competitive edge erode, we cannot act surprised.
I look forward to your constructive thoughts around e-Learning and any experience-based insights you want to share!
Founder, Alliance for Leadership Acceleration
Creator of LEAP® Leadership Acceleration Program
Groundhog Day is a famous ritual in rural Pennsylvania that dates back centuries to the days of the Roman Empire. It was also the subject of a comedy movie in which the main character is forced to relive the same day over and over again. Both the day itself and the movie offer several lessons for business leaders: managing by fact, work climate, employee engagement and motivation, training and development, innovation, and managerial effectiveness.
First, some context for those of you not up on Groundhog Day particulars: Each year in the early morning of February 2nd, townsfolk gather to see Punxsutawney Phil — that’s the groundhog — emerge from his hole after hibernating through the winter. If the groundhog sees his shadow, then we can expect 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, then spring will arrive sooner than what’s dictated by the calendar. Sound hokey? I think so.
The movie Groundhog Day (1993) was a comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. A TV weatherman (Murray) and his producer (McDowell) are sent from Pittsburgh to cover the annual Groundhog Day festival, but he unexpectedly begins to relive the same day over and over and over. Throughout the movie we watch Murray’s experience go from confusion to humor and taking advantage of the situation, to frustration and despair with his predicament, and finally to ultimately using the repeating days as an opportunity to better himself.
Avoiding Gimmicks and Ruts: 3 Lessons from Groundhog Day
1. Manage by fact. The point of the annual ritual is to predict the weather for the coming 6 weeks by observing the shadow of a rodent. This isn’t comparable to the way sailors today can navigate by observing the position of the stars as they did hundreds of years ago – that actually works.
How many organizations are managed in a manner comparable to the way some aim to predict the forecast on Groundhog Day? There are so many ways to measure your progress, study your marketplace, and analyze the data from your operations.
Using assessments to improve the success of your hires and promotions is a perfect example of this. You might scoff at the Groundhog Day ritual, but how many managers hire and promote based on instinct or gut feelings alone? Assessments can help you to take the guesswork out of the process and make better-informed decisions. And once you’ve begun using assessments, be sure to fine-tune the tools to ensure that you maximize your benefit from your efforts.
2. Don’t be cavalier with your work climate. Another lesson from the day is not to try to gauge your work climate by groundhog watching. Taking the collective mood of your employees for granted is foolish. Measuring the climate of your work environment is important if you value an engaged and productive workforce. Conduct annual employee surveys and work with your managers to encourage them to foster a positive climate for their staff.
Your actions will demonstrate to employees that you care about them and their well-being, which is a positive step in the right direction that is based on fact, not shadows and gimmicks.
3. Help your people and organization get out of a rut. The movie also provides several lessons for leaders. Doing the same thing over and over indicates that you’re mired in a rut. But doing so while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Of course outside variables affect your business even if you make no changes, but at some point you have to create your own destiny.
One of the important messages of the movie is growth through learning and practice. After a series of hijinx and moments of despair, he realizes that he can, to an extent, shape his fate. If he can’t escape the day, he can change his fortune along the way. Murray studies French, becomes a classical pianist, and learns to carve a fancy ice sculpture.
If your employees or business are stuck in a Groundhog Day-like rut, here are 5 areas for you to consider to help shake things up:
Founder, Alliance for Leadership Acceleration
Creator of LEAP® Leadership Acceleration Program
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.