Keep up to speed with the latest news, research and insights in the field of professional leadership and behavioral development.

Why leadership development programs fail: a reflective summary

Leadership DevelopmentThis blog provides great insight in what can go wrong and what should be done right in the design and execution of leadership programs. It is also striking to read again how much money is spent on leadership development without understanding the true benefits and results. In this summary we would like to discuss the key challenges identified by Mckinsey and how eCoachPro’s blended continuous coaching approach addresses these key challenges.

The key challenges identified by Mckinsey are:

1. Overlooking context

Context is a critical component of successful leadership. Too many training initiatives we come across rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture or CEO mandate.

We believe every coaching and professional development process is unique and highly personalised. By integrating online ways of working in more traditional coaching processes the professional development can actually be positioned and actuated in the day-to-day context of the leader.

2. Decoupling reflection from real work

Mckinsey states there is value in off-site programs that offer participants time to step back and escape the pressing demands of a job. On the other hand they say, even after very basic training sessions, adults typically retain just 10 % of what they hear in classroom lectures, versus nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing in a real work context.

We often observe the challenge of translating the insights gained during off site trainings into visible, day-to-day behavioral change. With eCoachPro’s continuous blended coaching approach the insights gained in offsite programs are a great starting point for our innovative coaching process. By facilitating an intense dialogue with contact moments on a daily basis the learning is brought into the day-to-day practice of the leader and hence steepening the learning curve.

3. Underestimating mind-sets

Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behavior. McKinsey observes that although most companies recognize that this also means adjusting underlying mind-sets, too often these organizations are reluctant to address the root causes of why leaders act the way they do. Identifying some of the deepest “ below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioral change – one too often shirked in development programs.

To cope with understanding “the question behind the question” a client has, eCoachPro has designed the ABC model for blended coaching. This model starts with a profound Analyse phase where the coach and the client explore the client’s coach objective by exploring their thoughts, feelings, assumptions and beliefs before moving on to the current reality followed by identifying opportunities and objectives based on core values and personality. Read more

4. Failing to measure results

Mckinsey frequently finds that companies pay lip service to the importance of developing leadership skills but have no evidence to quantify the value of their investment. When businesses fail to track and measure changes in leadership performance over time, they increase the odds that improvement initiatives won’t be taken seriously.

To cope with this challenge it is important to measure results throughout a leadership development process. For coaching activities the importance of measuring is equally important. In the blended continuous coaching process we have integrally designed 3 moments to measure progress and results, at the start, in the middle of the process and at the end. Among other questionnaires, we measure the progress on the objectives, motivation, personality and satisfaction with life. The scoring on the objectives can also be done using a 360∞-feedback loop to ensure objectivity and inclusion of peers or managers in the process. Read more

Mckinsey concludes that companies can avoid the most common mistakes in leadership development and increase the odds of success by matching specific leadership skills and traits to the context at hand; embedding leadership development in real work; fearlessly investigating the mind-sets that underpin behavior; and monitoring the impact so as to make improvements over time.

Source: pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen, and Kevin Lane (Mckinsey)

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