Why Leadership Programs Fail

Why Leadership Programs Fail

leadership programs



Leadership programs are a cornerstone of any organisation that wants to keep up with its competitors in the market place. The recognition of this important fact lends clarity to the $160 billion spent in US companies in 2015 alone. Leadership development was ranked as the number one human capital  concern by 500 plus executives in a survey conducted in 2012.

The question remains, however, if these programs are as effective as its proponents tend to imply. In actuality, these programs tend to have more failures than results, and although the reasons behind such failures may be obvious, the reasons for their success tend to be more elusive.

Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common pitfalls of Leadership Programs, and discuss solutions to the issues along with evidence based tips and tricks to improve their effectiveness.

Searching for Context:

Each organisation has a unique work-place dynamic, which results in equally unique requirements of top skills. If programs are focusing on providing a basket full of recommended skills, the actual effect of the program can result in imparting some diluted knowledge. In effect, required skills will not be properly disseminated, which can result in an ineffective training session.

Training facilities that were in close correspondence with the organisations themselves, were more successful in fulfilling the targeted skill sets. Organisations that were aware of the areas they lacked in and recommended a smaller pool of skills as the top priority saw more tangible results than others.

Hands-on Learning is the Best Way to Transfer a Skill Set:

The programs which put greater emphasis on theoretical learning faced issues where even the most enthusiastic of learners were unable to transfer this on-paper learning into effect in their respective organisations. Gaps in communication between the company and it’s workers resulted in same projects being carried out by two separate groups within the same company.

Projects that are linked to pre-existing programs present in the company yield more tangible results than generalised Leadership Programs. Individuals felt the presence of the organisation’s support and took full advantage of the teaching programs.

Getting to the Root of the Problem:

Companies often under-estimate the tenacity of their employees and are content with addressing only surface level problems, while the root of the issue remains untended to. Leadership programs focus on rewiring inefficient thought processes that are set in stone. However, the reason behind why individuals are using those established thought processes remain unaddressed. Organisations, even among recognition of the underlying causes of behaviour are reluctant to address such issues, citing the challenging and even uncomfortable aspects behind changing the causes of such behaviour.

Organisations should recognize that tackling this problem may not be the easiest, but leaving your comfort zone can be vital to learning new things, especially if the task at hand requires rewiring ingrained thought processes.

Quantification of Results:

A common pitfall of Leadership Programs can be the easy material being propagated by instructors. Instructors should instead focus on the more challenging aspects, rather than the empty offers of an easy course, which requires no thorough reflection nor introspection, therefore posing no real challenge to attendees.

The introduction of self-feedback in organisations can lend to higher self-accountability from higher ups and can make their progress more transparent to the rest of the company. Monitoring of participants after the course reaches completion can help quantify the results by comparing promotions, and employee retention. Among these workers, comparisons of those who attended versus those who did not can lend some greater credibility to the training programs.

Monitoring the Business Impact, which focuses more on an increase in sale as well as things like average productivity of business can paint a clearer before and after picture of the company.

Changing the Status Quo:

Some programs noted that even motivated and well-trained employees were not applying their gained knowledge when they returned to their parent company. This was attributed to an organisation’s ingrained methodology of going about their tasks, and how difficult bringing about such a change was.

Research has shown that organisation’s brought about change more effectively when the upper management was the one implementing these changes. This shows that Leadership Programs can greatly improve their efficiency if individuals in greater authoritative control introduce new methodologies than the common employee. Establishing more open channels of communication between the lower and upper echelons can also lend the Leadership Programs greater long-term success.

In order to fully utilise the pool of potential present within your company, an effective leadership program is a must. For help in constructing a tailor made training program, get in touch with us at trainings@www.prudsol.com

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