Experts urge for renewed focus on leadership development

red chess pieceThere is an urgent need for a renewed focus on companies’ leadership development programs in order to drive a competitive advantage.

According to a recent survey from research firm Brandon Hall Group, only 25 per cent of companies believe that their current leadership development plans yield effective results. In addition, more than half of all respondents have no formal manager training to drive their careers. However, those that did have formal leadership training in place were far more likely to rate their programs as extremely effective or very effective.

“Today’s leadership development is not working,” said Laci Loew, Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group. “The investment organisations are making in developing leaders is not delivering leaders who deliver results.”

One of the key factors contributing to these ineffective leadership training programs appears to be a lack of funding. The quarter of companies that did rate their leadership development programs as very effective, spend on average 60 per cent more on leadership training than organisations with programs that were rated as ineffective. However, businesses that fail to offer custom learning opportunities for future managers are missing the opportunity to streamline their operations and see a significant return on investment.

Executive education used to just focus on the top leaders in an organisation this trend has now moved to middle and junior managers

Another common mistake is that many executives and hiring managers are often already too late when they start training future leaders, as they only start looking for employees with leadership potential when a new vacancy arises. Wendy Cartwright, HR director at London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority, recently backed up this sentiment.

Cartwright said: “When I started my career I was fortunate to have some leadership training very early on and I think it’s essential to build the foundations for what comes next in the future – start early to build those blocks.”

Cartwright spoke at the HR magazine’s HR Lunchtime Debate alongside a panel of experts featuring Sue Parr, Head of Executive Education at The Open University Business School, and Louise Tibbert, Head of HR and OD at Hertfordshire County Council. The panel discussed ‘The Future of Learning: What you need to know to train tomorrow’s leaders.’

Parr added that the training of future leaders should not only start early, but there should also be a renewed focus on the best and brightest talent in organisations.

“Executive education used to just focus on the top leaders in an organisation this trend has now moved to middle and junior managers,” said Parr. “Employers must invest in these leaders who are really going to take the company forward.”

Therefore, there is a need for a more integrated approach to organisational training and development initiatives in order to leverage leadership development as a competitive differentiator.

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