Marketing gurus always tout that you get far more bang for your buck by developing existing customers than trying to find new ones. The same value and resulting higher benefit applies to developing talent internally rather than sourcing it externally. However, so many executives have experienced first-hand, the myriad of failed leadership development investments. That doesn't mean there isn't a good solution.
In fact, leadership development solutions that work are well documented. The requirements include the right balance of: assessment data, skill building, 1:1 coaching, peer solution development, real-world application, time, and accountability. But there are very few programs available to bring in-house, that integrate all of these areas, are proven, measurable, adaptable, and scalable.
The best organizations want development of leaders to happen internally, across teams, so they can work within their culture and learn from employees as they transform from manager to leader. But developing custom curriculum takes time and is somewhat unproven--ultimately a risky and hefty investment in today's agile, fast-moving corporate environment. The question is no longer "should we build or buy?" when it comes to strong leaders and middle management; the question is, "how do we build leaders in a cost effective way and show measurable results?"
This is the reason we're suddenly seeing so much adoption of the LEAP University approach. While LEAP has historically been a "public" offering allowing organizations to send one or two leaders to be developed, we're seeing a significant uptick in organizations that are bringing the program in-house to develop a broader cross-section of their leaders from within.
LEAP University is scalable to fit organizations in two ways:
CERTIFY INTERNAL RESOURCES. Certify and develop internal experts to coach, facilitate, and manage unlimited LEAP cohorts internally, across the organization, gives you maximum flexibility and scalability. Additional benefits include:
ENGAGE AN EXTERNAL EXPERT. Sometimes, culture, quest for external knowledge, or availability of resources call for bringing in a third party professional. In this scenario, organizations contract with our LEAP Certified Coach/Facilitators to organize, assess, facilitate, and coach through the transformation. Benefits of bringing in an external resource include:
Buying talent is expensive and risky because ultimately you don't know what you will get. Building your existing talent is less risky and pays much bigger dividends to the business. Which pathway is right for your organization? There's no one right way, it's a decision best determined by honest reflection of your organization's needs, culture, and resources.
There are countless articles and conversations happening these days about leadership programs that do not work. On our blog, we've talked about the shift from the traditional 70-20-10 model to 52-27-21, and the recent article from McKinsey "Why Leadership Development Programs Fail", touches on this and three additional easy-to-overcome, but still prevalent issues.
We hear time and again from executives that leadership development tops the list for both current and future priorities, yet it's hard to measure and quantify change in leadership behavior, or whether the leadership program is focused on the right things for what the company needs. Generally, executives seem left to sum it up anecdotally as "it just doesn't work". But positive change in leadership behaviors and attributes CAN be measured. And well integrated and executed programs with tracking in place can and do show that leadership development does work.
How do you measure success in leadership development?
Through our LEAP cohort and LEAP University programs we're set to graduate more than 70 Leaders in 2016. We've graduated more than 450 since starting the program. Every single individual's progress has been tracked and measured. Here are the Top 5 Positive Changes reported by graduates (and their executive sponsors) during their transformation from manager to leader:
We can even quantify to what degree there has been positive change for the individual, via our Confidence and Competence Assessment. Back to the McKinsey article, matching the competencies of the leader to the needs of the organization at that time, can help make the investment in development more fruitful. But if the program doesn't measure the change in competency, then how would one go about matching and developing the right skills for the job? Knowing how a leader has developed through the program is a key component of measuring success and finding the right talent for the job.
Take this a step further and consider - would development initiatives be more successful if your organization could identify the competencies needed for the particular role, and focus on customizing the leadership program for that employee? It's totally doable with the right, integrated program that combines assessments, skill building, 1:1 coaching, peer problem solving, and real-world application. We know that it cannot be done in 2-3 day workshops or online training, so why are those options even being considered?
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.