One of the breakthroughs at Make Me A Better Leader has been the application of LEAN process analysis to Leadership Development. LEAN in its simplest and most powerful context is a thinking process that enables one to “Banish Wastes, Create Value”. The LEAN Enterprise Institute has this to say about LEAN:
“The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.”
Many articles have been written about the ‘waste’ or failure of Leadership Development programs and their inability to consistently produce effective leaders. One of the most accurate articles was published in Forbes. Mike Myatt wrote The Number One Reason Leadership Development Fails.
Mike points out that American Society of Training & Development (ASTD) reports that over $170 Billion is spent on Leadership Training by U.S. businesses. He correctly points out that training does not equal development and boldly proclaims that the main reason leadership development fails is because of training. This is truth. The root cause of the problem is that training is designed around an event and once it is over, so is the opportunity for behavior change. Most people who attend training have little to no follow through with the ideas and skills they ‘learned’ at the training event. The application rate is so minimal, it’s embarrassing; less than 20% of participants change behaviors and create new habits as a result of ‘training’.
If we examine the process of leadership training and understand the root cause of why it doesn’t produce behavior change, the solution seems simple and powerful. Read what Mr. Myatt says:
“The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it in favor of development. Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them.”
The waste or Muda (as the Japanese call it) in Leadership Development is faulty planning and an over reliance on training instead of development. We definitely need some training at stages of leadership development, but it has to be combined with meaningful application processes to track progress toward new behaviors. Designing the process so that the participants can learn an idea and then apply the idea to real life is more important than intellectually learning theory. The bottom line is practicing new approaches and failing is much more important than sitting in a classroom and not practicing at all.
Leadership is not an intellectual practice. Extraordinary leaders act differently than others. They become different through a discipline of (learning) a powerful idea, implementing it through practice (growing) and then honing it until it becomes a habit of mind & behavior (changing). Learning, growing, changing, over and over. They continually use feedback to measure whether or not they are becoming better. LEAN leadership development is called Rapid Leadership Development.
- Have you ever attended a workshop and discovered later that you didn’t really do anything different as a result?
- What would your progress look like if you had a personal trainer of sorts who could be your leadership coach – what kind of progress could you make?