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ATD Blog

The Leadership Challenge

Thursday, May 24, 2018

How do we help leaders succeed every time they face a leadership moment?

That is the central question our industry must grapple with. Let me explain why.

Organizations today face an overwhelming leadership challenge. Thirty years ago, we could focus our development efforts on the elite few executives who topped the org chart, and throw in some high potential employees for good measure. Now, demand for talent is massive and growing, far outstripping the resources organizations have to meet it. Just think about how deep and broad we have pushed decision making in the organization. There are numerous leaders to serve, and an infinite number of leadership moments.

At AchieveForum we’ve started using the phrase “leadership moment” because we believe historically we’ve underappreciated how often people lead. For most contemporary employees, leading in some capacity happens several times a day—though they may not realize it. Sometimes those are big transformational moments, but usually they present in a less grand fashion. That doesn’t make them unimportant; on the contrary, these seemingly smaller moments can collectively add up to be even more important than the transformational moments.

Demographic changes also play a role. Millennials (and even some younger workers) are taking over the workforce and will soon dominate the managerial ranks. Until recently, we’ve worried about engaging them to retain them, leading most companies to underestimate the effort needed to prepare them to lead. We’ve never had so many people who need to lead effectively, and to do so often.


At the same time L&D departments and budgets are not increasing. During a recent webinar, we asked attendees what kinds of challenges their department was facing. More than half shared that they are trying to reach disengaged employees while having access to smaller discretionary budgets.

We’ve found that this mismatch between resources and demands explains a lot of why we see such high leadership failure rates.


In my next blog post, I’ll share more information about why leaders fail and what we can do about it. In the meantime, I invite you to visit the AchieveForum Leadership Lab. This is where the leaders at AchieveForum (and that’s all of us!) openly share our leadership experiences—some fun, some challenging, and all real and uncensored.

What is your organization’s leadership challenge?

About the Author

Scott Bohannon is chief executive officer of AchieveForum. Across Scott’s career, he has provided guidance to C-level executives at top global companies on issues including leadership development, HR & digital strategy, employee engagement, change management, finance, risk management, advocacy, corporate strategy, social media, and growth planning.

Before joining AchieveForum Scott was CEO of Info-Tech Research Group and McLean & Co. in Ontario, Canada. Prior to that, Scott was President of nsight2day, a company he founded in 2011 to help organizations better protect and engage customers, employees, and students through innovative technologies. From 1999 to 2011, Scott was General Manager and Executive Committee member at the Corporate Executive Board. He was also an attorney at Sidley Austin and an Instructor at the University of Virginia.

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