How To Make Sense of Organizational Leadership

We’ve all seen cases of sending employees to a leadership training program with no understanding of what skills or attitudes they are accountable to come out with. There is no measurement for whether or not the program makes any difference. Indiscriminately bringing in leadership “trainers” or aimlessly sending your leaders to a course because it “sounds interesting,” is the worst mistake you can make when it comes to organizational leadership.

It’s no wonder that organizations cut their leadership training budgets. If you still work in an organization that randomly sends people on leadership courses with no strategy or accountability or ways to measure the R.O.I. for the program, then you are working in an organization whose approach to leadership has reached its shelf life.

Smart – and healthy – organizations counter this mistake with a simple process:

  1. Clarify exactly what you expect from your leaders.
    Leadership expectations come from clarity of your values and clarity of your strategy. Once you are clear about where you are going and the kind of culture you need to get you there, then you can define the kind of leader it takes to make this happen. No one is promoted unless they meet the identified, expected standards.
  2. Rigorously measure – and assess – the leadership gaps.
    Once you are clear about what you expect from your leaders, you need to know where the gaps are. Your leaders need to know where they stand: both from in terms of attitudes and in terms of skills. Where are they meeting their organization’s need for good leadership? Where are they falling short? Your organization needs to know where the gaps are in their leaders. Who is a good leader? Who is not measuring up?
  3. Develop an accountability plan to close the gap.
    Once the gaps are identified (both personally and organizationally), the next step is to hold yourself and your leaders accountable to develop a plan close the gap. There are a myriad ways to close the gap, but how you close the gap depends on what exactly the gap is. Mentoring is a way to close a gap. Coaching is another way. Job sharing or cross-training, where you work in another area in the organization are also alternatives. Specific online training programs can be a very effective way to close the gap. Leadership training is an obvious way to close the gap, but now you have a goal and expected outcomes that you are accountable for in the leadership training. You may identify that many of your leaders have a similar gap in their abulities. This may present an opportunity to bring in an external consultant (or even internal person if you have the resources), to design and deliver a customized program that would fill the collective gap.

In order for leadership programs to produce long-term results they must have both clarity – about the specific skills and attitudes that are needed from the leaders, as well as a strategy to address and fill the gaps. Its so much more enjoyable, enriching, and effective, when you are working with a purpose, rather than merely working with a package.