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    Why Leadership training fails, and what to do about it

    Companies spend an enormous amount on employee training and education but aren’t getting a good return on it. People tend to revert to old ways of doing things, and performance doesn’t improve. Too often a firm’s top executives abdicate their responsibilities for developing people to HR or a trainer while they get on with the ‘real work’ of running the business. Of course, their people could be playing a vital role in running the business if they were coached and challenged properly by their own managers.

    Here are some of the barriers to change:-

    1. Unclear direction on strategy and values, which often leads to conflicting priorities;
    2. Senior executives who don’t work as a team and haven’t committed to a new direction or acknowledged necessary changes in their own behaviour;
    3. A top-down style by the leader, which prevents honest conversations about problems;
    4. A lack of coordination across businesses, functions or regions due to poor organisational design;
    5. Inadequate leadership time and attention given to talent issues; and

    Employees fear of telling the senior team about obstacles to the organisation’s effectiveness.

    This is the approach to talent development that is seen as being most effective:-

    1. The senior team clearly defines values and an inspiring strategic direction.
    2. After gathering candid, anonymous observations and insights from managers and employees, the team diagnosis barriers to strategy execution and learning. It then redesigns the organisation’s roles, responsibilities, and relationships to overcome those barriers and motivate change.
    3. Day to day coaching and process consultation help people become more effective in that new design.
    4. The organisation adds training where needed.
    5. Success in changing behaviour is gauged using new metrics for individual and organisational performance.
    6. Systems for selecting, evaluating developing, and promoting talent are adjusted to reflect and sustain the changes in organisational behaviour.

    Therefore in summary, to create a favourable context for learning and growth, senior executives must first attend to organisational design – both at the very top and unit by unit.

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