The Value of Customised Leadership Development

We collaborate closely with our clients to design and deliver completely tailored solutions. We help organisations build the leadership capacity they need to achieve stretch performance goals. Our focus is on a leader’s ability to not only think strategically, but also implement that strategy effectively using core leadership competencies such as collaboration, influence and sense-making.

“standardised classroom training has little or no effect on leaders’ performance on the job” 

A McKinsey report (Gurdjian, Halbeisen, Lane, 2014) highlighted the billions spent annually on leadership development. Right now, some offerings from business schools can cost $150,000 per person. This makes sense in an environment where leadership development is a key concern for business,  but does it work? Contrast the fees with the only 7% of senior managers in one survey who believe their companies develop leaders effectively, and the gap between desire and delivery becomes blindingly clear.

Traditional training disregards the systemic nature of business, and does not leverage organisational wisdom

A fundamental reason for this failure is that leadership development as it has been, is an imitation of learning processes at schools and universities. There, theoretical knowledge is taught in chunks of internally coherent material through presentation/ lecturing and written content.  Recent research in the field shows this type of traditional classroom training has little or no effect on the performance of leaders in their roles. However, many organisations still see this as the core of internal development processes, and many leadership development organisations sell just that. We don’t.

Our approach of exploration and co-design for all our programmes, ensures that we commit the time and effort up front to ensure that any leadership development is targeted to address the specific challenges and context of the organisation, and allows leaders to engage their experience and organisational knowledge. This allows them to easily turn the learning into practical and implementable solutions.  Each learning opportunity within a program is aimed at providing either a specific tool for practical problem-solving, or creating a new perspective to allow for a different understanding of the context, and therefore a new way to engage with business challenges.

“We develop capacity to engage with the organisational system and thus create real impact”

Anyone who has been on a traditional leadership development program, realises soon after they get back to their desk that for some reason, all those great ideas that made so much sense in the classroom, now seem impossible to put into action. The reason for this is twofold.

Firstly,  academic teaching has as its basic aim the development of human knowledge, whereas leadership development, to be effective, has to to address real challenges in an organisation.  In order to practically use the skills and knowledge gained from traditional teaching based programs, leaders need to independently find ways to translate this knowledge into practical and contextual solutions, which adds several layers of complexity.

Secondly, The generic and non-specific nature of theoretical content, means that it does not take into account the immediate context of the organisational system in which it is meant to be implemented. Thus it disregards the systemic nature of business, where trying to change one part of it has repercussions on the rest. So any attempts to change the system, cause the system to push back and try to reach its original state of equilibrium.

This makes change very hard to implement and maintain. This type of program, also does not take advantage of leaders’ inherent knowledge of their own organisation, and thus does not leveraged organisational wisdom to create meaningful, practical solutions.

“we use the latest and most impactful learning tools and processes to ensure that real learning takes place”

We already know teaching and learning are not the same thing. Learning requires much more then sitting in a classroom passively absorbing content from slides and presentations. Our approach of customised design, incorporates the latest research and the most impactful methods to create learning experiences that provide leaders with the practical footing they need to go back to work and engage directly with the challenges they face more effectively.

This includes discovery journeys to other organisations, journeys of self discovery through mindfulness, solution-driven small group engagement, and a variety of other tools and processes that have shown themselves to be effective in creating meaningful personal growth and organisational change.

“our solutions address both current challenges and effective preparation for the future”

In order to maintain sustainable success over long-term, Organisations need to develop their potential talent in readiness for succession. However we do not just provide learning to deal with immediate problems and the challenges, we also support organisations in preparing for the future, developing a deeper leadership bench-strength and a strong pipeline of talent to ensure ongoing success through leadership transitions and changes.

While we help current leaders engage with immediate business challenges, we also help organisations develop their future talent to deliver the long-term vision of the organisation.  The development of an organisation’s talent pipeline is done in close collaboration with organisational talent management teams where possible.

*(McKinsey Quarterly – January 2014; Why leadership-development programs fail By Pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen, and Kevin Lane)
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