Leadership trainingThe more I deal with HR departments in various companies the more I have come to understand that if it is HR that is entrusted with leadership development (and it usually is) the more it is likely to fail. Let me explain what I mean by this.
Most leadership formation programmes I have encountered either are not working or will certainly fail to produce the kind of leaders needed in a connection economy. My concern is that even amongst the ‘professionals’ – the business schools – that several companies entrust with their leadership formation programmes, are also following down the same ‘dead-end’ path.

A helpful framework to understand leadership development is that of paying attention to the role of three things: Content, process and outcomes. Traditionally the focus has been on ‘content’ and programmes that keep this as their focus are, in my opinion, doomed to failure. The emphasis has to shift to process and outcomes. Leadership programmes need to become leadership processes. It is an important shift as the traditional tools of measurement used in a programme / content approach won’t work in a process orientated approach.
Goleman (Emotional intelligence) writes in his latest offering, ‘The New Leaders‘ that “For leadership development to succeed, top management needs to demonstrate that commitment comes from the top…Leadership development typically becomes the mandate of the HR department. But despite their technical expertise and, in many cases, their contribution to strategy, HR people cannot, on their own, drive significant change in behavior or culture.” (p297)
Understanding how to prepare leaders for the emerging connection economy will involve recognizing that the implications for the present culture of the organisation could be huge. Burning old boats and building new ones in such voyages of discovery is required…not merely shuffling the chairs on the deck around as most programmes are content to do. Savvy leaders immerse themselves in the heart of such process, aided by the expertise and skills offered by those in HR.
HR needs to be redefined. And it is leaders who need to do the re-scripting of the text if scope is to be given to really develop leaders who can lead in a connection economy. I believe that companies who get this right will develop ‘programmes’ for leadership development that look nothing like those which currently populate the landscape.
So how does your company develop leaders? What has been you experience in this area?

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