4 Reasons Why Leadership Training Programs Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeeds

Opinions expressed by Businessman contributors are their own.

Every year, companies spend billions of dollars on leadership training. In developing my leadership development program, I have spoken with hundreds of CEOs. In any case, they say developing new leaders is high on their priority list. However, at times, they are disappointed with the results of their efforts. If you want a high performance leadership program, you need to understand the following four points:

1. Businesses don’t measure results from the top down

I understand? Measuring leadership effectiveness can be difficult. There are complex variables and completely different opinions about the goals of the program. The executive team must state clearly and concisely what they expect to achieve from the training and management program. Once the executive team has decided what they want to measure, it’s time to determine how to measure the program’s effectiveness.

I think it is wise to discuss why a company would start a leadership development program. The purpose of leadership is to guide change, to go somewhere we’ve never been. Therefore, the decision of what to measure and how to measure the effectiveness of the program should be aligned with the vision of where the company is headed.

Related: It’s Time to Evaluate Your Leadership Development Program

2. Organizations don’t measure leadership skills

It may seem counterintuitive not to reduce the effectiveness of the program in a number — for example, reducing employee turnover or the number of unscheduled messages. These are easy to measure and track, but they don’t speak directly to how well your leaders are applying the lessons learned during the various leadership performance improvement activities.

A leadership development program should teach, reinforce expected behaviors, and then hold leaders accountable for using the tools you’ve provided. Would you invest capital in a piece of equipment that was never used? If you want, I have a vintage AMC Gremlin that needs a new transmission. do you want to buy it? No, you wouldn’t do that. You would probably buy the equipment for a specific function and capacity. You would measure the new skill based on how well it meets your performance expectations. Why invest in leadership development without measuring whether you have achieved the desired capability?

In my article, 7 Tasks Every Leader Must Master, I outline seven key skills every leader must master. These tasks become core competencies that can be measured by various methods. Your imagination is the only limit to the usefulness of this evaluation method.

3. Businesses do not integrate leadership development into operations

Leadership development is not a one-off program. Once the trainer or counselor leaves the building, then what? You can take four actions to incorporate your new skill into your daily operations:

  1. Create an annual leadership plan from scratch. Ask leaders at each level to describe the intentional actions they will take to demonstrate their core competencies. Remember investment in capability? This is the meat and potatoes.

  2. Assign young leaders a peer mentor. The role of the peer mentor is to show how we do things around here. Mentors can help familiarize new leaders with systems, team climate, and cultural expectations. Not only will this help your program run smoothly, but it will also ease the stress of new leaders. These relationships have the added benefit of building peer trust.

  3. Here are coaches. A coach’s role is to help all leaders face challenges and gain situational clarity and concise action. This is a trusting relationship because it is a place for leaders to think and develop strategies based on desired outcomes. Coaches should not betray the coachee’s vulnerability. Coaches should maintain the relationship on a purely objective basis.

  4. Add accountability for performance leadership skills. You’ve heard the saying “you expect what you inspect”. Develop a way to periodically assess the effectiveness of your leaders in their core competencies. This need not be a punitive consequence, but should highlight areas that require improvement or clarity of work.

Related: 8 Steps to Creating an Effective Leadership Development Program

4. Businesses do not prepare leaders for change or instill resilience

When change strikes an organism, so does fear. Fear is a result of uncertainty. Will this change affect me and my job requirements, leadership and compensation? Does this actually put me at risk? The level of fear is directly proportional to the level of trust the employee has placed in the organization and its leaders. At a basic level, faith takes two forms. The first is trust in the project. Can this company implement the change and come out on the other end? Second is social trust. Will this change negatively affect my subordinates, peers, and leaders’ opinion of me? With a high degree of trust comes resilience. People who are confident that they are safe and free from harm will embrace change. they may begin to look forward to new challenges.

Related: Leadership development within the organization: Strategic investment

If developing new leaders is high on your priority list, understanding and avoiding the four mistakes above will put you on the road to developing a high-performing leadership program. There will undoubtedly be challenges to navigate, but these tips will give you a good start.

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