I strongly recommend this week’s featured article in our newsletter ‘Why leadership development doesn’t work.’ The points the authors make all resonate with me, and I love the way this article is written.
My first thought was to recall a study on this very subject that I did for my master’s degree. My conclusions then were that the biggest gain from leadership development was its impact on culture. We are talking some years back here and so the leadership development I looked at then was all about classroom training. I found that few actually gained usable skills from the training but just the fact of being together in a room for any amount of time with colleagues discussing and working on the same concepts raised understanding of the impact of actions and decisions, and it importantly helped to create more consistency of practice.
Fast forward several years and Carolyn and I were jointly running two leadership development courses for the operations departments of two similar financial businesses. The delegates in both cases came from similar backgrounds, were performing more or less the same roles, and the courses had similar aims. However, for Bank A this was their first foray into leadership training. Moreover, communications and meetings at Bank A were sparse. At Bank B however there was open dialogue and masses of training. All training, and management practices were joined up. People were used to talking about management and strategic issues. The effect for us was that at Bank A we had to slim the programme considerably because people took so much longer to grasp the issues and build understanding. We ran the Bank B programme at a much higher level.
My point? Sometimes the gains from leadership development are not tangible, but that does not mean they are not beneficial.