How Effective is Your Leadership Development?

Michael Gallagher, .

If you were to ask your management and human resources teams about the efficacy of your internal leadership development programs, what would they reply?  The Global Leadership Forecast 2011 asked just this to thousands of participants from 74 countries.  If Canada’s highlights could be summed up in a sentence or two, it might well be, “Meh, it’s ok.  Could be better, could be worse.”  Hardly a resounding endorsement; in fact, the tepidity of the responses is what is, perhaps, so startling about the results.  Where is leadership falling short?

And how can you avoid the same problem plaguing your organization?

Leadership is targeted as the most important factor in a business’s success – or failure.  The survey looked at 357 executives and HR professionals in order to determine how Canadian businesses felt they performed in the following areas:

  • Leadership Development
  • Talent Management
  • Management Culture

The survey, which is available here, goes into each of these components in more detail.

The results are telling: only 43 percent of Canadian businesses felt that their leadership development programs were effective.  Only 37 percent rate their current development program as highly effective; and less than 20 percent would rate their “bench strength” as high.

While these figures are indicative of the quality of leadership programs, they also provide a stark contrast to how executives themselves view leadership, which is often as a number one priority.  The disconnect is between the theory and the practice.  Leadership development takes an incredible investment of time, money, and effort, and it is here that many companies fail to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

TD Bank Financial, by contrast, was recognized by Canadian executives as being the “leaders of leadership.” Their Build for the Future program is central to their core mission of navigating the complex financial world and training effective leaders.  The team is given executive coaching so they are prepared if a promotion becomes available, and development is ongoing and dynamic.

Build for the Future has a feeder program that is targeted to managers below the executive level and dedicated to training future leaders.  This is vital – the organization fills 66 percent of positions with internal candidates.  Leadership training, in essence, goes from the top, with CEO Ed Clark (who attends every session and answers questions), to managers, and even tellers.  Tim Hockey, for instance, is now the president and CEO of TD Canada Trust, but he started almost 30 years ago as a part-time teller.  TD Bank Financial spends the money and time it takes to develop future leaders and looks within their company to mine its talents.  This is imperative – and it is also rare.

The respondents to this survey did a great service to themselves and other businesses when they answered these questions honestly.  There is no way to improve if a problem is ignored.  Ask yourself the following questions – and answer truthfully!

  • How would you rate your company in a survey of the three essential leadership components: leadership development, talent management, and management culture?
  • How important is your current management to your current and future growth plans?
  • Are management-level people aware of your business goals?  How far down the management chain do people have a clear idea of the goals and their impact, for the current fiscal year?
  • Is management included in the formation of business goals?  At what level are people excluded from informing that process?
  • What type of leadership development programs do you have in place and how would you rate their effectiveness?
  • What active steps are you taking to develop your “critical” people into strong leaders for current and future years?

Implementing some of the ideas mentioned here can be challenging. If you would like to discuss them in the context of your own specific business please contact us. We’d be glad to help.

Tags: ,

Michael Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, President of Michael Gallagher Advisory, has spent the past 20 years helping small business owners and managers develop and implement strategic business plans, achieve sustainable, targeted growth and solve the problems that keep them up at night.