Importance of leadership development programs

When I speak with "C Level" Leaders today and ask them where their largest pain point is, they all say in unison, "We can't find good people." My retort is, "no, you have found the very best people or you would not have hired them. The problem is, you have not trained them to become that superior employee that you seek." It is this point that drives me to outline the importance of leadership development programs in Corporate America today.

With an unemployment rate just under 4% in most places, the problem of finding any people is exacerbated. But this comment about finding good people was high on the "C Level's" agenda long before the employment rate took a tumble.

86% of companies rated leadership training as Important or Urgent. 85% are not confident in their leadership pipelines. 61% of companies have no leadership training programs at all.
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You see, we live in a throw away society. Just look at the sides of our highways, our mall parking lots, even our city streets. Refuse is everywhere. This thought process of “just get rid of what you no longer need” has now invaded the way we think about the people we employ.

What happened to the traditional leadership development program?

So why is this happening? Well, it is pretty easy to understand. Over the last three recessions, industry cut training and development budgets first to save money during lean times and then continued that practice in the name of better profitability. Investing in the development of your future leaders was put on hold to allow for better short term gains.

The result today is that an entire generation (Millennials) are leadership illiterate, with Gen Z also emerging in that category. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn Learning, 86% of companies rated leadership training as Important or Urgent. 85% are not confident in their leadership pipelines. The survey went on to say that we are experiencing a training gap, not a skills gap, as 61% of companies had no effective leadership training at all.

No wonder our "C Level" Baby Boomers, who are all conventionally trained leaders, assume that their underlings were also trained as they were. They forget that training budgets were cut while Millennials were matriculating through the ranks. Many Baby Boomers complain that Millennials do not have the leadership skills and emotional intelligence to lead. That is why they feel that millennials are not the caliber of executive or high potential leader they are looking for. What to do?

The importance of leadership development

It is time to re-invest in the development of a company's future leaders because, by 2025, these millennial executives will make up 75% of the workforce. Baby Boomers today are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. Talk about a skill drain!

And the way Boomers and Millennials learn is very different, with both groups thinking the other is ridiculous in the way they think learning needs to occur. So the Boomers continue to harass the Millennials about their lack of leadership skills, and the Millennials respond by self-selecting out by themselves. Thus the mindset that we just get rid of what does not fit because we made a bad hire rather than choosing to develop our people to make succession in our organization seamless.

By 2025, #Millennial executives will make up 75% of the workforce #LeadershipDevelopment
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Today, industry continues to enrich the Executive Search profession. Instead, if they had made modest investments in a leadership program over the course of time, retention of employees would blossom, loyalty would result, and this #1 problem, a lack of leadership, would become a company's #1 asset due to their platoons of effective leaders.

So, Corporate America: It’s time for some reflection, some cost projections and, finally, some succession forecasting. Doing so will allow you to see if an integrated program of Leadership Development will help you take your biggest challenge and make it your biggest asset.

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Posted by Robert T. Foley
A portfolio career, filled with an unusually broad horizon of knowledge, Bob brings a rich and diverse experience to Sage Prosperity Partners (SPP). He began his career in Government Service and then moved on to Executive Search, Executive Coaching, Workforce Development, Labor Relations and Financial Services. As co-founder of SPP, Bob is committed to providing an oasis of wisdom in a turbulent sea of change.