Leadership Development or Manager Creation?

Dave's Blog 7-11-2013More than one-third of organizations consider leadership development to be a priority when it comes to time, energy and resources, and about 18% say that it is critical to their business. That is according to Brandon Hall Group’s Business Focus 2013 survey. This means that for more than half of organizations, there is a keen focus on leadership development strategies and practices.

There is an unending supply of information and advice available on the topic and I found this recent post from Fast Company to be rather refreshing, especially the part about not being able to manufacture leaders. There are definitely varying degrees of an innate leadership quality within people.

Along those lines, it seems as though much of what passes for leadership development today could be re-named manager creation. A lot of what we put time and effort into is training people to fill managerial or supervisory gaps within the organization. This does nothing to develop leaders. I haven’t met a person yet who at some point in their career didn’t have a manager who was a great engineer, salesperson, doctor, teacher, programmer, etc., but a terrible manager.

We need to ask ourselves if our programs are truly expanding the experiences of future leaders by taking them out of their comfort zones and really challenging them. If all we are doing is trying to tick off a competency checklist, we are creating a cadre of zombie managers who may fit the mold, but may never truly lead the organization.

Is it any wonder external CEO recruitment is at a 17-year high? Of course, there are many factors surrounding CEO succession, but perhaps some of this trend is attributable to organizations’ inability to develop internal candidates, or at least, their lack of confidence in doing so.

Always eager to do our part, Brandon Hall Group has launched a Leadership Development benchmarking study. We are collecting data to uncover the current state of leadership development, effective practices, and what the future might hold. Of course, we need your help to accomplish this. Please take our Leadership Development survey and be the first to see results, as well as be entered into a drawing for an Apple gift card.

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