Leadership investments a catalyst for change
Every year thousands and thousands of individuals and groups invest in leadership and talent development. This ranges from hiring an inspirational speaker, taking the team on a team building exercise, to full scale leadership courses and programs.
All these efforts are hopefully inspirational and majority of participants will probably take with them a few interesting facts and insights. Some of them might even begin to alter their behavior for a day, a week or two. But then in 9/10 times it stops there!
The results don’t happen, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, culture and business stay the same, or at least until some outside event takes control and runs the show i.e., we need to do pricing, or change the way we sell. This is why I believe most CEO detests (myself included) having a motivational speaker or leadership course per se. I mean what’s the point!
The problem (I think) is multifaceted:
1) Often the course, program or seminar is not connected to the overarching mission and vision of the company
2) The course, program or seminar is not connected to the business and what the company wants to achieve (its strategy and goals)
3) People forget. What we learnt yesterday is lost by up to 75% the next day. And after a week almost all is lost, if we don’t practice!
4) Old habits die hard, they are formed early in life and are difficult to break…especially if we stopped learning and experimenting at some point
5) People are sometimes ego centered and not principle driven i.e., what is in it for me, my family or someone else. Which in relation to learning and development causes multiple problems such as distrust (i.e., not 100% positive to what or who, i.e., the company, boss etc.) and not doing what needs to be done with lust and passion (i.e., giving 100% of yourself)
So that’s the bad news or some obstacle to overcome…because here is the good news!
Its worth the investment if you get it right! Several of the big management consultancy firms (Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co) and numerous others testify through research, that finding the sweet spot in leadership and talent excellence is well worth the quest! And through own experience in business I can only agree.
I even dare to say that developing leaders is critical for an organizations ability to compete and create long term value (beyond expectations), but it needs to be connected to the business!
So how to make it happen (some food for thought)?
Ensure the leadership development investment is aligned with your business objectives. By that I mean that the learning and development program needs to focus on what you are trying to achieve in business. Leadership can be the energy and catalyst, but is never the end result.
Secondly make sure employees are in touch with the goals, vision and mission of the company and with their boss, co-workers and direct reports, i.e., people need to be engaged, included and feel they contribute to a larger plan – people want to build cathedrals, they don’t want to stack bricks.
People can change! Every day we have up to 20-30 000 internal conversations with ourselves. What we think about today is up to 90% the same thoughts as yesterday. What an opportunity to focus our time and energy on the things that give meaning and result!
Habits can be replaced if they are embedded in every day learning. Most of the things we do are things we do because they are easy to do (or at least we think they are). We hardly think about how to buckle our seatbelt, but what if there was a better way! What if I started thinking about a new way to buckle my seatbelt, what if that would save me time. And all of a sudden we go from a reactive mode to a proactive mode where we are looking for new ways to do the things we did yesterday in a better way. What if we could take that same mindset to anything we want to do and do it!
It’s an investment in the company and the individual, so make it count! Leadership can be a catalyst for change, continuous improvements, bottom line impact, people development you name it! So ensure the desired outcome is connected to a target you wish to achieve and bottom line impact will follow.
So the next time you consider investing in leadership, change management or employee engagement or similar, consider at least this:
1) Is the change and results I am trying to achieve connected to the business objectives, strategy and the environment in which the manager and the individual engage?
2) Is management and your leaders geared with a growth mindset and effective communication skills (i.e., know what matters to themselves and the company, who diligently and daily with proactivness and passion focus on few selected actions with a clear end goal, where blaming is removed and effective coaching and communication rules)?
3) Am I treating the development as an investment and not a cost (i.e., what is return on investment I am trying to achieve and how long will it take for the change to happen)?
Partner & Site Manager Stockholm