Sunday, February 27, 2011

Now We Know...Why CHROs Don't Think They Are Effective at Leadership Development


I have discussed on DNA of Human Capital a couple of times (OK...maybe more) about importance of leadership development and various studies that detailed importance and effectiveness considerations for leadership development. The most recent study was the 2010 IBM Global Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) studies. The CEOs communicated that leadership was important, even going as far to say that creative leadership is what is needed in today's world. The CHROs echoed this, but 2 of every 3 CHROs also indicated that they were not effective at building and developing leaders. That is not a good sign...

So at an event two weeks ago, I was expecting more of the same. At this meeting of Federal government leadership development leaders and practitioners was the Corporate Executive Board's Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) to discuss "Improving Returns on Leadership Development." At the beginning of the presentation were the details that I expected...In the CLC study, many organizations were moving to increase their investment in leadership development...that much was understood. Additionally, I wasn't surprised to find that only 19% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that their "Programs have delivered the Leader Capabilities Needed by the Organization."

So there I am sitting and thinking...OK...same results from the IBM work, but not anything new. The important questions for me were the following:

- Why do CHRO's think they are not effective?
- What do CHROs do to fix it?

I was pleasantly surprised to hear answers to those questions...

According to the CLC research, root causes for the poor returns on leadership development investments are attributable to three things:

1. Disconnected Strategy: Leadership Strategy is not integrated with business strategy.

2. Misaligned Outcomes: Leadership outcomes and metrics are not connected with business outcomes.

3. Uncoordinated HR Activities: Leadership activities are not integrated with other HR activities.

The rest of the presentation looked at three organizational case studies that were considered best practice. While I would like to discuss the details of the case studies...that goes beyond my agreement with CLC to share these results at a high level with each of you.

The great thing for my organization is that we were already working on developing both a Leadership Strategy and Leadership Capability Measurement Strategy, and aligning our leadership development processes with other Talent Management processes. While there is no magic dust that will help you and your organization in creating great organizational leadership capability, these three basic activities (OK...they are basic...maybe not easy...) these steps are the right things that can start to raise the veil of leadership development and the ability to improve returns on leadership investment.


J. Keith Dunbar is a Fearless Transformational Global Leader...Creator of Talent, Leadership Capability, and Culture Change…He can be found connecting and sharing knowledge on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Twitter: JKeithDunbar
DNA of Human Capital:

The opinions or views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the Defense Intelligence Agency.


  1. Love these questions Keith! Perfect timing as we're about to take (albeit small) steps forward in the evolution of our leadership development initiatives.

  2. Hi Jay...lots of discussion around leadership, leadership development and organizational performance...too bad we keep having the same conversations about these things regarding the three root causes of poor leadership investment...

    Good luck with your efforts...hope they bear number crop of fruit for you.


  3. Keith, I keep coming back to this post.

    I come to realize #3 is perhaps the silent killer of HR within business. Either HR doesn't "get it" and therefore not respected by their business leadership partners, or they are so focused in their own theoretical world that real business passes them by.

    If HR would understand #1, and #2, they would begin to understand how to conquer #3.

    Thanks !