Go online, stroll through a bookstore, attend another training workshop or seminar and you will see that the topic of leadership is everywhere. We talk about it in political terms, business, sports, and tax-exempt organizations. People are captivated and confused at the same time by the concept of leadership and the essential elements that produce a high performance leader.
Though we may be in very different organizations by purpose and function, we all know when we are experiencing and working with an ineffective leader. It is something we feel. It is also something we experience in diminished outcomes and performance. We often learn from these experiences what we do not want to imitate in the technical and behavioural skill lapses of these ineffective leaders. Conversely, we often find it difficult to identify and develop traits of an effective leader, programmatically, that does not seem to be mechanical or a “one-size-fits-all” approach that ignores the unique qualities of individual human beings. Consequently, there are a number of factors that contribute to the failure of leadership development.
Keep in mind that leadership development and aligning leaders toward performance outcomes and cultural improvement is a key strategic priority for senior leadership of virtually any organization.
We have discovered in our research, three critical factors we can identify as the root cause of stalled or failing leadership development programs in most organizations. First is limited participation by senior leadership in the training. Second is the failure to customize the training and development to the needs of the individual leader and the strategic objectives of the organization. Third, is the lack of accountability for changing behaviour following the training that measures improvement in key outcome indicators. The limited participation of senior leaders signals a lack of commitment to the other key leaders of an organization. As one common saying explains, “The difference between participation and commitment is like an eggs and ham breakfast: The chicken participated, but the pig was committed.
If you are a senior leader, you have to ask yourself, how committed are you to real change in your organization and what am I doing to create that change? Senior leaders create strategic vision and objectives for the organization. Leadership development is most effective when the efforts of its leaders are connected to those strategic objectives that indicate the business priorities of the organization. Active participation of senior leadership in development programs gives them the best opportunity to align the development of their leaders to achieving those strategic outcomes. Maintaining your strategic focus as a senior leader and assessing the technical and behaviour skill sets of your organizational leaders is best accomplished by your active participation in the development efforts as well.
Another reason that leadership development efforts fail is the cynicism of senior leaders. This cynicism is often fostered by the false belief that such training efforts will yield minimal benefits but require maximum resources. This mind-set is potentially disastrous, and it communicates to talented employees that the organization is not concerned about their growth and development. An important paradox to remember is that people do not quit their jobs; they quit their leaders. Performance engagement, the willingness of people to bring their talent and brains to work to further the interests of their organizations, is predicated on a culture that invests in people, and leadership that supports that investment. When an organization fails to develop its leaders, or worse, when an organization develops leaders and loses them to another organization, the impact on organizational performance is staggering.
We now have the science to prove that the motivation and passion that we associate with employee engagement, and the focus and clarity that we associate with optimum productivity, and the emotional intelligence that we associate with influential leadership – they only occur within positive emotional energy. We also know that the tangible indicator of emotional energy is behaviour. The skill of Positive Presence is an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to emotional energy and provides a systematic, programmatic methodology for equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the behaviour skills indicative of an energized work force.