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Your Leadership Development Strategy Isn’t Good Enough

Anything that claims to have the silver bullet for a problem is usually wrong. Be it taking weight loss pills, becoming a millionaire, or even just getting your kids to eat cauliflower, solutions are a lot more complicated than that. This same principle applies to the epidemic of floundering leadership development. Drawing from research conducted at McKinsey & Company, Claudio Feser, Nicolai Nielsen, and Michael Rennie share four more effective strategies for developing leaders:

  • Focus on shifts that matter.
  • Make it an organizational journey, not cohort-specific.
  • Design for the transfer of learning.
  • Embed the change.

Leading Your Leaders to Success

When business strategy shifts, the model for leadership development must be adapted to cater to those new strategic needs. Leadership development that is not shaped by strategy will not be effective enough to drive the highest performance gains. Particularly, leaders need to have vision and flexibility in order to be successful. Their ability to adapt to different situations will make them more likely to be able to offer quality leadership in times of change.

Another theme for creating quality leaders is by making it an organizational journey. The goal here is to make sure that leaders are growing and gaining insight across the organization at regular intervals. You should avoid shorter, more sporadic programs that don’t offer the right amount of time or tools to change with the organization’s priorities. Technology works wonders here to enable learning at a larger level with the ability to tailor the program as needed.

Utilizing technology can also play a key role in breaking the “teacher-classroom” model of learning and allowing learning at a much faster rate. There are many ways for people to keep learning, including on-the-job learning opportunities. Being able to learn through self-discovery and introspection leaves a greater impact on a leader. Additionally, it would be wise to let people keep building on their strengths, as “successful leadership developers were around three times more likely to allow participants to build on a strength rather than correcting a development area.”

The authors say that the fourth theme, embedding change, is about ensuring that business-as-usual does not get in the way of actually using new skills and competencies developed:

Also critical are formal mechanisms (such as the performance-management system, the talent-review system, and shifts in organizational structure) for reinforcing the required changes in competencies. In our latest research, we found that successful leadership-development programs were roughly five to six times more likely to involve senior leaders acting as project sponsors, mentors, and coaches and to encompass adaptations to HR systems aimed at reinforcing the new leadership model. Data-enabled talent-management systems—popularized by Google and often referred to as people analytics—can increase the number of people meaningfully evaluated against new competencies and boost the precision of that evaluation.

For additional details and some statistics, you can view the original article here: http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/whats-missing-in-leadership-development

About Austin J. Gruver

Austin is a Staff Writer for AITS. He has a background in professional writing from York College.

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