[Leadership] On “Why leadership development programs fail”



Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/why-leadership-development-programs-fail


The authors of the article discuss the importance of leadership development programs (referred to as LDPs in this posting) that have been on the rise and their not so successful effectiveness and identify four reasons why the LDPs fail to make a lasting difference on leaders: overlooking the purpose of developing leadership skills, separating LDPs from hands-on work, underestimating the role of the participants’ mindsets, and abandoning follow-up assessments. Going over each reason one by one, the authors provide telling cases of both success and failure LDPs.

One thing I learned from this article is that context matters–a lot. I thought that mastering a list of leadership traits would be enough for an LDP, but the authors point out that a specific trait is good under one condition and may not be enough in another. One example was the case of a CEO of a European services business. His innovative leadership was good when the company was expanding alongside market growth, but the trait alone was not enough when clear direction and financial planning became necessary. Depending on a particular context, the authors say, a company has to set clear goals, tailor the purpose of their LDP, and agree on a small set of leadership skills to focus on. This need for customized LDPs means that leadership training services must provide project-based services that cater to clients’ specific needs–business development phase, location, financial concerns, etc.

As I was reading the article, three questions arose. What is 360 degree-feedback? What are some ways to measure LDP effectiveness? How did the engineering company said to design a successful leadership program merged with work do it?

1. 360 degree feedback

A 360  degree feedback process is a multi source feedback where opinions about one’s performance is gathered from many people working with him, from one’s manager, peers, and subordinates. The name is derived from the fact that one is viewed from different angles that different people take assessing him. This multi rater feedback process is used for both development assessment and evaluation assessment, and there are some issues regarding using the process for evaluation assessment such as promotion because there is room for manipulation of feedback.

One thing I found interesting is that this method could have gone obsolete or at least ignored at large had it not been for technological development. In the past, multi source feedback had to be collected manually, typed up, and analyzed, and this process was tedious, time-consuming, and costly, thus inhibiting wide use. But the later development of the Internet made it easy for respondents to submit their answers easily and for analysts to handle them in no time.

2. Measuring LDP results

The authors mention measuring the effectiveness by using the 360 degree feedback process, monitoring the career development of the participants, and looking at business achievement. All these measurements, however, must be aligned with the clearly defined set of traits that an LDP is designed to enhance, as noted in another article (https://hbr.org/2015/01/evaluate-your-leadership-development-program). This article links to a page that lists other measurement methods (http://gurumaker.com/services/assessments/). But another method seems like widely in use: the Kirkpatrick-Phillips Model. I have found a link to a detailed explanation, which I will look through later (http://www.buscouncil.ca/busgurus/media/pdf/the-kirkpatrick-phillips-evaluation-model-en.pdf).

3. Designing the Work/Program model

I need to research further to figure it out.












Further work to be done

  1. Kirkpatrick-Henry Model
  2. Work/Program design
  3. Read https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-leadership-training-fails-and-what-to-do-about-it












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