Leadership Development: Business Boon or Boondoggle?

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Leadership Development: Business Boon or Boondoggle?

It’s that time of the year when employee development plans are coming due in many organizations.  Even though the value of developing employees is highly substantiated, the task of getting development plans completed, recorded, and acted on tends to get short-shrift compared to planning and managing budgets and business plans.   Volumes of research reveal that investing in the development of leadership talent delivers organizational results of increased profitability, reduced turnover costs (almost 250% of a mid-level manager’s salary), and strengthening the employment brand (ability to attract talent).  In addition, effective development increases individual effort by 25% and individual performance by 10%, and strengthens retention based on perceived career advancement opportunities.(1)

Training and development is a significant expense to organizations.  Whether the expenditure is a cost or an investment is largely determined by the quality of development  – whether it utilizes the best sources of development that produce the most growth. In reflecting over their careers, executives report that their most significant development came from the following sources:  experience (70%), significant other people (20%), and training (10%).  This is the opposite of where most people believe their development comes from. 2

Here are a few tips on offering conditions that cause significant development.

Development through Experience

  • Projects in current role:  the impact is escalated if the project is cross-functional or cross-business, outside the individual’s area of expertise, and visible to senior managers.
  • Expanded scope of current role:  taking on additional responsibilities that are multi-functional, involve managing in a matrix structure, and/or remote management.
  • High-stakes (new) assignment: an assignment in unfamiliar territory, e.g. a different business or an international assignment;  and assignments in which there is a significant risk of failure, e.g. a turn-around or a start-up.

Development through Other People

  • Characteristics of ‘other people’ who become mentors or role models include:  more senior, in another area of the firm, or have skills that the employee wants to develop.
  • High potential / top talent employees report that the opportunity to network and work on business issues with peers – other top talent – is very important to them.3

Development through Training

  • Training that focuses on specific, relevant skills – both technical and managerial – transfers to performance, as long as the training itself is effective.

So, in this season of development planning, don’t approach it just to cross it off your list.  Rather, make a commitment to focused, high-impact development, accelerated by management support, and get a return on your investment.

1 Engaging the Workforce: Focusing on Critical Leverage Points to Drive Employee Engagement.  Corporate Leadership Council, 2004

The Lessons of Experience, Morgan W. McCall, Jr., Michael M. Lombardo, Ann M. Morrison.  1988.  This work has been continuously built on, and continues today,  by The Center for Creative Leadership.

Corporate Leadership Council High Potential Management Survey 2005

At Kinetic Insights, our PathFinders are skilled in helping leaders unleash the greatness in themselves and in their organizations. Call or email us for a quick discussion that just might put you and your team on the path to significant change.

Kristi Thompson, a seasoned professional with more than 25 years experience, devotes herself to aligning people and processes to meet strategic goals with direct impact on an organization’s bottom line.

By |2018-09-27T15:37:45+00:00February 20th, 2014|Categories: Insights, Leader Effectiveness|0 Comments
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Kristi Thompson, a seasoned professional with more than 25 years experience, devotes herself to aligning people and processes to meet strategic goals with direct impact on an organization’s bottom line. View full bio

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