February 25

Who is Accountable for Developing Leaders?

Recently I was trading emails with a CEO of a large company and asked about how they develop their leaders. This company is a good place to work and has created ownership for its employees through an employee stock ownership program (ESOP). They have worked at developing their culture and they have been a growth company for many years. They have been a ‘promote from within’ company as well. All good things and they are a place that people want to work. So, you would have to give kudos to the leadership team for developing a very successful business.
Back to my question and his response; “we have developed several leadership programs that we use, as this is a major focus for our company”. This shows that there is a priority to at least train employees about leadership. Another good thing, right? Yes! But not good enough in today’s hyper-competitive environment. Read on if you are the type of person who believes if better is possible, good is not good enough.

Most companies that have “leadership programs” are doing leadership training. Which is good and necessary, right? Yes, but if that is all they do, they are missing a huge opportunity.

What’s missing is leadership development: the process of leading people to develop skills and habits that enable them to become outstanding leaders.

It is not training. It is not an event nor is it a program. Sometimes we use the words; leadership training & development, which describes an integrated process that combines training & development. I realize this may not be a new idea but for many CEOs, it is a blindspot. They have, just like my friend, delegated the responsibility to a learning & development leader to design a good “program” and they tell people they support the initiative and they may even participate in some of the classes. In other words, the best CEOs know they need to be involved so that others understand it is important.

However, if they were fully accountable for leadership development, they would know exactly what the difference is between training and development. They would study what the best companies do to develop their leaders. They would ensure their company has a PROCESS and not a program that begins and ends with measurement so that they could determine the outputs of the process. In other words, they would consider leadership development a huge priority and be accountable for the results like any merger & acquisition process, new product development process, production process, etc.

Who owns leadership development? It’s not the training and development department. The owner is the person who holds the final accountability for the success and failure of the company. Leadership development is a critical business process and CEOs are accountable for it.

Who owns leadership development at your company?

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