Leadership Development: Smart Investment or Unnecessary Overhead? | Stepshift

Leadership Development: Smart Investment or Unnecessary Overhead?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

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Many organisations invest a considerable amount of money and resource into developing their leaders. The return on that investment can often be accurately predicted at the outset based on the approach taken. Identifying this approach often holds the difference between a smart investment and an unnecessary overhead.

Many leadership “experts” pedal a particular area of interest they have and try to convince you that this is the Holy Grail for leaders. “It’s all about the willingness and ability of leaders to engage in courageous conversations,” was one line I heard recently. The topic varies, but the principle is the same, that some leadership development subject material holds the answer for all leaders.

This is of course absurd. Why? Because the central component of any successful and sustained leadership development initiative is the leader, or the leaders, involved. This may seem both obvious and logical and yet most leadership development initiatives rank the content well ahead of the leaders and as a result the impact is handicapped before the intervention starts.

For any leadership development initiative to be successful, the leader or leaders concerned must be at the centre of the program’s design and delivery. At a bare minimum this involves understanding:

  • The business situation, outcomes, leadership imperatives and success measures
  • The leaders’ situation, needs and challenges
  • The leaders’ strengths and weaknesses
  • The leaders’ key criteria and objectives

Make sure any leadership development initiative you initiate or approve is a smart investment that has every chance of delivering results and not an unnecessary overhead. Do this by ensuring the leaders concerned are centric to the approach taken and not just an afterthought.

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