Do they have anything in common?


Carl-Johan Herslow & Jacob Peterson & Henrik Horn Andersen

Final words. But we decided to put them first.

When we set out on this experiment in 2016, little did we know that two years later, Harvard Business Publishing, The 2018 State of Leadership Development – Meeting the Transformation Imperative would confirm that we were trailblazing through wild, highly untouched terrain in the most spot-on direction. Based on extensive studies, the report concludes that companies once and for all need to innovate and adjust their leadership development efforts to equip their leaders to drive real transformation and future-proof their organisations.

The 3 top areas highlighted in the report are:

  1. Build organisational agility.
    L&D must identify strategically relevant interventions and experiences that it can execute now – even amid extensive change.
  2. Deliver learner-focused initiatives.
    Enable experimentation. Provide programmes that enable people to explore and practise new skills on the job. This allows people to integrate learning with work and makes learning a continual process rather than a one-time event.
  3. Expand the definition of partnerships.
    Partner up with L&D, strategy and market functions to deliver business critical development. Learn from innovators. Look outside your industry to organisations that have innovative programmes and approaches you can bring to your own organisation.

Let us stop tiptoeing around the issues.

In his book Dual Transformation, Harvard Business Review Press author Scott Anthony argues that the threat of disruption also constitutes the greatest opportunity that a leadership collective will ever face. But to seize that opportunity, companies need to build a phalanx of leaders with the right capabilities and mindsets.

That raises the question: is leadership development as we know it really preparing organisations to succeed in the future? Does it create a satisfactory ROI? Data suggests it is not. As in big time not.

  • What CxOs say: A staggering 71% of organisations do not feel that their leaders are able to lead their organisation into the future.
  • What employees say: 86% of managers see themselves as inspiring, good role models, while 82% of employees consider their leaders to be fundamentally uninspiring. Quite a gap.
  • Do organisations know how to bridge this gap? No. Only 19% of organisations say they are very effective at developing leaders.

Further, 4 out of 5 organisations believe that greater innovation is needed in the leadership development sphere. On the other hand, data reveals that organisations that more directly link leadership and employee development to the strategic ambitions are typically the best-performing companies in their industries.

Organisations that view development as critical to business success are continuing to deliver top performance compared with their peers on crucial metrics such as revenue growth, market position and future growth. Leadership development is typically driven and executed in a highly traditional way – not very prone to disruptive thinking. Nonetheless, there is clearly a need for radical innovation. It is time to stop tiptoeing around this issue. It is time to stop wasting humongous amounts of money and instead make the money work for you.