Why Leadership Development Needs to Be Updated

Why Leadership Development Needs to Be Updated
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There’s a leadership problem in the workplace. Companies lack employees with leadership skills and fear they don’t have enough rising leaders to take the reigns. Case and point -- almost half of the companies surveyed for Workplace Trends’ Global Workforce Leadership survey in February and March 2015 said that leadership is the hardest skill to find in employees.

What’s more, among the 1,000 employees surveyed, only 36 percent said leadership is a strength in their organization.

Related: 10 Ways to Grow Leaders in Your Business

But the problem doesn’t lie in employees’ lack of skills or current leadership’s inability to train future leaders. The problem is leadership development itself. According to the same research, 39 percent of companies surveyed offer leadership development programs, but just 15 percent of employees felt they were effective.

The reality is that leadership development is seriously outdated. Here’s why the old model won’t work anymore.

It lacks metrics.

Almost everything in business is tracked and measured -- everything but leadership development. In the old model, employees undergo training and coaching, and then start in leadership positions. And that’s it.

But how do employers know if their development program is really working? Do they know where it’s going wrong? What needs to be improved? What employees think about the process? Which parts of the programs are effective?

They don’t. Why? Because the traditional model of leadership development and coaching isn’t attached to metrics. In fact, 58 percent of companies are still using spreadsheets as their primary way to track performance metrics, according to the Workplace Trends study.

Employers aren’t measuring to see if their training methods are effective, and that’s a major problem. Without metrics, businesses can’t understand where their programs may be failing and how to make development more effective.

The new model of leadership training needs to track metrics before, during and after development programs. That way, employers can adjust their strategies and get the most out of leadership coaching and development.

Related: 5 Reasons Your Company Needs to be Metrics-Driven

Only senior level leaders are trained.

Leadership development and coaching is expensive. So it’s typically reserved for those at the senior and executive leadership levels. But that means there’s a whole group of middle and lower-level managers without leadership experience -- and their lack of training has a serious impact.

Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager Report, which studied 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, found that the top two reasons employees are promoted to management positions are because they were successful in a non-managerial role and they have experience and tenure with the company -- not because they have leadership potential or experience.

It’s no wonder that only 35 percent of managers in the Gallup report were engaged at work. And when managers are disengaged, so are the employees they lead. The study found that employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59 percent more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.

Throwing employees into leadership positions cold doesn’t work. The new model of leadership development needs to extend to every level of management. Companies need confident and trained leaders throughout the business, not just at the top.

Development programs aren’t scalable.

Training more and more leaders at every level uncovers another problem with traditional leadership development -- it’s not scalable. What does that mean? Businesses don’t have the right tools and resources to support coaching hundreds of employees at once plus track them all.

Most employers can only coach and train a handful of employees at one time. Employers need new technology to seamlessly train and track the development of mass quantities of leaders across the organization. Businesses already use similar software and tools to onboard new hires, and it’s time they adapt the technology for leadership development.

Coaching is inconsistent.

Employers typically turn to external leadership coaches and programs for training. But in this model, the coach controls the messages and philosophy they teach to leaders, and that can create a disconnect between the company’s mission and goals.

Related: How Coaching Can Help Executives Bring Out Leadership Traits

As it is, 61 percent of North American employees surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said they don’t know their company’s mission. When coaches are in control, leaders receive inconsistent training that doesn’t align with company practices and values, and they can’t reinforce the mission to employees.

Employers need to take back the control and launch leadership development programs consistent with the company mission, values and goals. This way, development and training aligns with the ROI and metrics companies want -- not what the coaches want.

What problems have you experienced with traditional leadership development? Share in the comments below!