Most leadership writers are overly prescriptive about what it takes to be a leader. Lists and recipes abound. Thought leaders suggest they have discovered the “Holy Grail” of leadership that...
Organization’s attempts at leadership development are reflective of the age-old debate on parenting: does it take a lot of time or quality time?
The chart below describes the common actions taken by CEOs to develop the next generation of leadership talent according to Price Waterhouse Coopers.
When it comes to leadership development, it appears organizations focus on planning activities instead of building judgment, values and character. It also demonstrates that leadership development is something senior executive want addressed as a program but they want to spend little or no personal time in this area. (Note the time spent in shadowing a senior executive).
Leadership Lesson: Leadership development is not a microwave process; it requires a crockpot. Leadership development is not a list of activities that are marked off a checklist (i.e., how many functions one has worked in). Rather leadership development is dependent on the ingredients that simmer in the stew. If those ingredients do not come in contact with each other, the unique flavor is never created.
If one looks at leadership trust across all types of organizations, then one realizes that the major battle is one of character, values and philosophy and not primarily skill. We are failing miserably in leadership development because our focus is on checking activities off a list rather than exposure to excellent leaders who are struggling with real problems. Antiseptically dissecting a case study in a classroom is not the same as sitting with a leader who is struggling with the right thing to do in real-time when all the facts are not on the table. Leadership talent development requires large quantities of exposure with the leader because one cannot plan when critical learning issues will arise. Until leaders realize that it is not setting up classes or even rotational assignments that develop leadership talent but rather exposure to applied excellence, leadership development will be hollow. That takes investment of the rarest resource the leader possesses: time. This is how we find out how important leadership talent development really is!
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