Is Leadership Failing?

A question one finds being asked more often today with those to whom we expect leadership seemingly failing and its not constrained to any one particular sector, examples are presented in daily news services as a frequent reminder that increasingly leadership is failing.

For too many organisations, developing and sustaining leadership capability across their organisations remains elusive with these organisations increasingly self-identifying that the identification, retention and development of leadership capabilities remains an unresolved strategic issue.

This is despite the reality that we have more leadership development opportunities today than ever before, delivered through a variety of methods, supported by more than 456 Million searchable items on Google and more than 98 Thousand leadership items available online through Amazon, as just two examples. So what’s not working?

The answer is as complex as successful and sustained leadership is itself.

Mainstream leadership programs which take a traditional approach of theory, debate, discussion and action based projects certainly have their place, indeed this is where the journey of building leadership capabilities starts, these programs build knowledge in a safe yet challenging environment for participants, however, this approach can best be described as one of training.

Organisations are often quick to send their management off to leadership programs as if it will magically address the organisations issues; the reality is that whilst the organisation will receive increases in performance as a dividend for their investment in the training, it is also true that the increase in performance will generally not be sustained.

The unfortunate truth is that the core issues will re-emerge unless the organisations leadership is a part of an authentic leadership development program of constant exposure to knowledge, development opportunities, self-reflection and frankly hard work by the individuals themselves over a prolonged period of time.

Back to Leadership training where the individuals have built and filled their leadership toolbox with the core competencies of leadership, and have had the opportunity to have practiced the use of those tools, it is then for a very small number of individuals who will go through a change in thinking, reflecting and acting, it is a time that see’s true leadership capability emerge, it is at this time you see and hear a tangible difference in an individual.

The issue with leadership is that leaders are developed, not trained per se; it requires a long-term development plan and supporting program, leadership training has a vital place, it is the first stage, not where it ends.

“Is Leadership Failing?” article published in the Alwasat Newspaper May 2013. This is a summary version of a longer article which will be published in September 2013.

Categories: Leadership

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