The Number 1 reason leadership development fails...

by The Architect on Mar 22, 2017

... is that it's really old-style 'leadership training' disguised as 'leadership development'.

You can't 'train' leadership. But you can develop it. So, the phrase 'leadership training' has disappeared in recent years, to be replaced by 'Leadership Development'.

Good. But, is your leadership development just leadership training with one word changed?

We tend to do that in People Development or HR.

So, Dave Ulrich told us years ago we all need Centres of Excellence.

And HR departments have stuck "Leadership Centre of Excellence" on someone's door in HR and the label becomes the reality.

Whereas, in actual reality, your leadership 'Centre of Excellence' is dispersed 'out there' in your leadership community.

I admire Dave Ulrich, but that thinking - that you need to centralise in an era of dispersed and flattened leadership, where great and emerging practice is 'out there' in your organisation and has no label on it  - is now old school. And reinforces the idea that your HR people are somehow experts in how leadership works.

So, have you inadvertently done something similar with your 'leadership development'? Is most of it old-style 'leadership training' (which is discredited, remember?), just relabelled?

Score your organisation's leadership improvement practices against these two columns to highlight which areas are actually still 'training' masquerading as 'development'.

That's your hit list of practices to change. Find at least one. If you can't be sure, I'd go for Number 18 and work on that.

Here you go:

20 Question Test: Leadership Development or Training

  1. Training blends to a norm – Development occurs beyond the norm.
  2. Training focuses on technique/content/curriculum – Development focuses on people.
  3. Training tests patience – Development tests courage.
  4. Training focuses on the present – Development focuses on the future.
  5. Training adheres to standards – Development focuses on maximizing potential.
  6. Training is transactional – Development is transformational.
  7. Training focuses on maintenance – Development focuses on growth.
  8. Training focuses on the role – Development focuses on the person.
  9. Training indoctrinates – Development educates.
  10. Training maintains status quo – Development catalyzes innovation.
  11. Training stifles culture – Development enriches culture.
  12. Training encourages compliance – Development emphasizes performance.
  13. Training focuses on efficiency – Development focuses on effectiveness.
  14. Training focuses on problems  - Development focuses on solutions.
  15. Training focuses on reporting lines – Development expands influence.
  16. Training places people in a box – Development frees them from the box.
  17. Training is mechanical – Development is intellectual.
  18. Training focuses on the knowns – Development explores the unknowns.*
  19. Training places people in a comfort zone – Development moves people beyond their comfort zones.
  20. Training is finite – Development is infinite.

Source: Mike Myatt came up with that list five years ago . 

*This is the one where I, personally, think most leadership development falls down. The other area where I think we tend to fall down, not in Myatt's list (though Points 8, 15 and 16 skirt around it) , is that HR confuses 'Leader development' with 'Leadership development'. And focuses entirely on the formal leaders.

Real-time development of your leaders. Just in time.

Learn how