A 2005 survey conducted by Bersin & Associates found organizations spend as much as 30 percent of their corporate training dollars on leadership development. This is no surprise. Around the globe, virtually all market sectors predict shortages of qualified leaders. It is also well-known that leadership skills drive results: High-quality leaders attract high-quality performers, which, in turn, build and grow the organization.
Despite the large investment in leadership programs and initiatives, research shows many companies still struggle to create and implement effective leadership development programs. In fact, corporatewide leadership development is one of the most challenging initiatives a learning organization will ever tackle.
When conducting in-depth, qualitative interviews with 20 companies, Bersin & Associates analysts found organizations shared several common challenges related to the implementation of effective leadership development programs. These include:
So, how does an organization overcome these and other challenges and move from making leadership development a priority to implementing an effective, successful program? The first step is to understand what leadership development actually is. Many organizations confuse leadership development with management training. Management training is operationally focused and should provide supervisors and managers with the skills required for managing people, projects and budgets. Leadership development cultivates current and emerging leaders and is tightly integrated with business strategy, succession planning and other talent management processes. Understanding and articulating the differences between these two types of programs will help you go beyond management training to true leadership development.
As with any major planning effort, it’s important to know where you are now and where you’re going. Understanding where your organization fits on the leadership development maturity model is important for two reasons. First, by knowing the types of activities and program characteristics at each maturity level, you can plan for future investments and program expansion. Second, the model provides a useful communication tool when discussing program evolution with senior executives.
The following are several characteristics of high-impact leadership development initiatives and examples of companies that have put them into practice:
Leadership development is one of the most important areas in enterprise learning today. Companies must take a hard look at what they are doing today to develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Josh Bersin is the principal and founder of Bersin & Associates, and he has more than 25 years of experience in corporate solutions, training and e-learning. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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