Any leadership development professional hopes to hear great feedback after a significant program, especially if it has a positive impact on career potential. So, “you have advanced their careers by 2 to 3 years”, can only be viewed as enormously positive!
Achieving this outcome can’t be achieved by just running an event, or a series of events, that pushes the familiar buttons of developing leaders – strategic thinking, inspirational leadership, change agility, etc. Indeed, expecting leaders to grow by exposure to multiple text book themes, is like expecting football players to be great by just learning the playbook.
I have suggested 5 ways in which a person’s career potential can best be developed:
• Immersing leaders in experiences that test their judgment through work scenarios that really count
• Stimulating their development through diverse learning methodologies – reflective, action-learning, practice, team-learning, etc.
• Continually stretching them outside their safe-zone
• Exposing them to leaders within their organization as well as external experts
• Coaching them to focus on the priorities with the support of personal assessment and feedback
Bringing all of the above into a development experience over a period of time provides the ‘perfect storm’ for stimulating personal growth.
Of course, any personal development intervention only achieves as much as the participant are willing to engage. But assuming that a percentage of any cadre does engage, the growth of these individuals is almost guaranteed, providing that the foundations of capability and potential exist. This isn’t theory or alchemy, but it is an understanding of how people develop. I still recall the program that had the greatest impact in my early leadership development – I was tested, stimulated, motivated, inspired and most of all, emotionally challenged. We shouldn’t just reach the minds of leaders in their development, but their hearts are what impacts them and others most.
If an organization is prepared to invest in leadership development, then great design is essential. Spending money on high-brow programs or building experiences that don’t contain all of the above 5 design elements is a sure way to “reap what you sow”. There may be a short-term uplift in knowledge that can be applied in the workplace, or the individual may develop an awareness of their development need. To really get traction in developing leadership career potential, a stimulating and holistic design can accelerate development in a phenomenal way.