Out with the old, in with the old

Out with the old, in with the old

The beginning of this year 2012 Simon Holland wrote a blog in the HBR, January 05, 2012 titled

In his first-ever blog to start the New Year, Simon Holland, Global Head of Strategic Change and Organizational Transformation argued that it’s time for a radical review of leadership development programs as most of these programs only maintain the status quo. He stated that long-term organizational change can only happen when true behavioural change takes place. And behavioural change in return can only take place if there is an in-depth understanding of individuals and what motivates them.

Simon quoted research done by British psychologist Richard Wiseman that had shown that 88 percent of all New Year’s resolutions end in failure. He then debated the reason why human beings struggle so hard to make change happen in their lives and referred to research done by LEAD- Leadership Excellence at Deloitte. In this research only 4.3 percent of leaders rate their organization’s leadership development as “very effective.”

LEAD highlighted four critical design flaws. The number one problem is a failure to link programs to the needs of the individual and to continuous professional development. He pointed out that organisations will see far better results if they can link the development needs of its executives and managers with the development needs of the organization.

The number two reason found by LEAD is that leadership development happens in the wrong environment. According to Lead facilitators need to create the conditions for “constructive challenge,” where participants feel able to admit to and face up to personal weaknesses. Changes do not happen in the comfort zone therefore leadership development should offer opportunities for personal stretch.

The third flaw said LEAD is that most programmes are too generic, the content and structure promotes force-feeding people information from a standardized training script and this does not work. Learning has to be relevant to the specific needs of the individual and to the problems an organization confronts. LEAD pointed out that learning should be based on finding solutions to real issues on practice —rather than theory! People need to know a thing emotionally or through practice rather than just knowing it intellectually.

The final problem highlighted by Leon is follow-up—or lack of it. Nearly a third of respondents in a survey commissioned by LEAD from independent UK organization IEDP said that coaching was the key factor in their “most powerful learning experience.” The respondents said that the opportunity to reflect on what you’re doing, provided by coaches and mentors, makes learning more secure/embedded. Simon then continue by saying that given the pressures and competing demands on leaders, it is necessary to formalise support / coaching and mentoring to leaders by factoring it into their development programs. He stressed that it’s an investment that will pay off in the long term.

Simon summarized, by listing the four S’s as key to better at leadership development:

Synergy – make sure individual and organizational needs are aligned.
Stretch – provide constructive challenge.
Solutions – engage people in problem-solving, the real-life stuff.
Support – nrovide time for reflection and coaching.

Follow this four-point plan, and you could avoid being one of the 88 percent of people whose resolutions never materialise.