A recent story in the Harvard Business Review by Navio Kwok and Winny Shen makes the case that leadership training should not just be for top performers. The article discusses something they call the “leadership development paradox.” This paradox describes how individuals in organizations that receive the most development opportunities often need it least.
I concur. In my practice, I have found that those who need leadership development the most are often not considered for development opportunities. These individuals could be those already in a leadership role or those deemed a “lost cause” or “bad investment” by decision-makers in the organization. It is a paradox because these individuals are the perfect candidates for development opportunities.
I will publish research that clearly defines this issue in the coming months. However, I will say that much of the problem is rooted in misconceptions about leadership, the purpose of leadership development, and the best approach to achieve leadership development ends. Granted, much of this has to do with the leadership amateurs that spread misinformation, misconception, and contortions. Regardless, I can tell you that I have found that engaged employees are productive employees. Unfortunately, about half of all employees are somewhat or not engaged. The question becomes, how do we engage our employees that are not otherwise engaged?
The answer may reside in understanding employee motivation and the purpose of leadership development. Many are unaware that an employee’s number one reason for staying with an organization is their leadership development opportunities. Conversely, many organizations are unaware of what leadership development does. However, it is relatively simple. Organizations need engaged employees. If you want engaged employees, you must help fulfill their needs. Professional leadership development efforts help meet employee and organizational needs because fulfilling employees’ needs help to improve employee perceptions of both the organization and themselves. The result is often improved overall performance, engagement, and reduced turnover.
Unfortunately, many organizations do little to correct the problem due to the misconceptions and confusion previously addressed. Sure, some of this is rooted in ignorance of solutions, but this neglect often results in leadership gaps. The cause and effect are that leadership gaps often lead to competitive decline. Perhaps this presents another paradox of sorts.
Decision-makers tasked with choosing leadership development candidates should reconsider their leadership development selections. So how should one decide which employees are selected for professional leadership development opportunities? Kwok and Shen provide some excellent advice for helping decision-makers choose. The solution they propose is to select employees on a 1-to-1 basis. In other words, select a developmentally ready employee and an employee with developmental needs. Doing so helps ensure that organizational leadership gaps do not grow in our blind spots.
Read more by clicking the following link: https://hbr-org.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/hbr.org/amp/2022/01/leadership-training-shouldnt-just-be-for-top-performers
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