Sunday, June 19, 2011

Leadership Development in a Funk...

DDI recently released their Global Leadership Forecast 2011 - Time for a Leadership Revolution. The good news is that the study points to the continued importance of leadership in organizations and on a global scale. Leadership is recognized as driving employee engagement, organizational performance, and creativity and innovation.

"Today’s leaders make decisions in an increasingly unpredictable business environment. In a recent IBM study of 1,500 CEOs worldwide, more than 60 percent believed that their businesses today were more volatile, uncertain, and complex (IBM Global Business Services, 2010). It’s no wonder that the quality of leadership can make or break the sustainability of any organization. The difference between the impact that a top-performing leader and an average leader has on an organization is at least 50 percent, according to leaders participating in Global Leadership Forecast 2011. This degree of difference is staggering, considering the hundreds (or possibly thousands) of leaders employed at any given organization. In fact, this research demonstrates that organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction. Specifically, when leaders reported their organization’s current leadership quality as poor, only 6 percent of them were in organizations that outperformed their competition. Compare that with those who rated their organization’s leadership quality as excellent—78 percent were in organizations that outperformed their competition in bottom-line metrics."

The bad news is that we continue to think we are not good at developing future leadership capability. Whether organization leaders or Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs), most feel the same when addressing the dichotomy between importance of leadership and leadership development and effectiveness of creating leaders. I consistently ask these two questions at speaking engagements and had the same opportunity a couple of weeks ago. The importance of leadership development graded at a 4.62, while the effectiveness to develop leaders graded at 2.21 for this group. These are similar numbers from IBM's 2010 Global CHRO Study.

So we are still in some kind of funk.

Elliott Masie and the Masie Center's Learning CONSORTIUM just concluded his first LeadershipDev conference in Las Vegas last week where he brought leadership development people together to discuss assumptions, rituals, investment decision making and new models for development. Why is this important? It is estimated that just in the United States we spend $14B on leadership development. That is a lot of money not to be getting it right. To help determine some answers the current University of Pennsylvania Chief Learning Officer Doctorate Program is conducting a series of quantitative and qualitative data collection to understand how leadership development investment priorities and content decisions are being made to better understand what is driving this perspective. The results of this study will be shared in a series of white papers from my fellow Doctoral candidates and myself.

My hypothesis at this point about the consistent gap in Importance and Effectiveness is this...We are are making assumptions because we don't really know whether we are effective at developing leaders. How you respond to the Effectiveness question is almost totally dependent on what you know...when you don't know and are unsure...uncertainty creeps in and your answer is less confident.

I discussed this in a blog post last year on the lack academic research linking leadership and organizational performance and by default leadership development titled "Leadership and Organizational Performance...Lack of Linkage." I recently revisited it in February with this Corporate Leadership Council research that I also wrote about titled "Now We Know...Why CHROs Don't Think They Are Effective at Leadership Development."

The age-old question has consistently been how do we measure learning investments. Typically we perceive it as too hard to do,,,I am here to tell you to get off your butt and just do it. I am not talking about Return on Investment, because quite frankly...I find that a huge waste of time. No one else has to prove ROI...why should we? Read my concept of measuring leadership capability here...

Studies indicate we have been in this funk for at least the last 5-10 years. Time to get out of it and meet the expectations that leaders have for our efforts.

Nuff Said!


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

Twitter: JKeithDunbar
LinkedIn: J. Keith Dunbar
Blog: 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.

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