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Reasons Why Leadership Development Fails

Published Thu Oct 01 2020


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The leadership development landscape dramatically shifted as companies moved their programs to all-virtual platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And if these programs didn’t go virtual, the efforts were put on hold.

Some even did nothing, which was the worst choice. Leadership development fails when its programs aren’t invested in. It’s like sending leaders off to run a marathon without a pair of running shoes. Doing nothing at all guarantees instant failure.

It’s clear that companies with leadership development programs are a step ahead in this economy. But there’s always room for improvement. So, what are some of the most common missteps we have seen so far?

Ditching the Classroom

More teams are working remotely, and many companies feel like they can’t bring people together in the classroom. But even if you can’t bring people together in person, it doesn’t mean all classroom training should be stopped.

In fact, people working remotely are looking for more opportunities to connect and learn in the classroom with other leaders. Instead of ditching the classroom, companies can look to virtual ones to keep the connection between leaders. And virtual classrooms are not a compromise—the return on learning investment is the same as face-to-face engagements.

Relying on Old Faithful

Rather than investing in new leaders or improving the skills of current ones, companies tend to stick with the usual suspects. And who are we talking about? The people who get things done. The people who have been successful in the past.

Doing this may deliver short-term benefits and results. However, it does little to strengthen the overall leadership pipeline. In addition, it can also burn out those old faithful high performers. And that’s why leadership development fails during the long-term for companies using this approach. There is often hidden potential left untapped.

Taking a Build It and They Will Come Approach

Many companies make online learning and other self-directed resources available to leaders then think their work is done.

While self-directed learning should be a part of a company’s program, not all development should be this way. Leaving development to individual curiosity and chance is risky—and it often doesn’t work.

It’s easy to understand why. DDI research confirms that learners look for less self-directed learning. Learners are overwhelmed by so much content that is not curated for them.

Set Up Leadership Development for Success

Especially now, leadership development is even harder to get right. But your leaders need you to get it right because they have more on their shoulders than ever before. And your company’s livelihood depends on it.

Your leadership development program doesn’t have to be a failure. You don’t have to make these mistakes. Prepare your leaders to not just get by but to thrive in these uncertain times. Ensure they have the essential skills to lead today.

To learn more reasons about why leadership development fails, visit DDI’s blog.

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