Money talks | Are you Really Spending your Leadership Development Budget Wisely?

Are you Really Spending your Leadership Development Budget Wisely?

AchieveForum’s CEO, Scott Bohannon, just returned from the ATD (Association of Talent Development) annual conference in Washington DC, where he and the team implored the 1000s of L&D delegates, “Stop paying for content, start paying for leadership success”.

It sparked a lot of insightful conversations about supply with a growing demand for leadership support.

Companies are spending billions every year to develop their current and future leaders. They are diving head-first into an industry inundated with content – different courses, webinars, and programs – all in search of the same thing: the elusive promise of leadership success.

But in a ‘VUCA’ world characterized by non-stop technological advances, confusion, and complexity, surely it’s no surprise that people are investing so much to prepare their leaders?
Let’s take a moment for a reality check:

  • Only 13% of current leaders have confidence in their rising leaders

  • Only 7% of managers think their companies develop global leaders effectively

  • 33% of managers reported no positive effect post-leadership training (Avolio, et. Al 2009)

The fact of the matter is that while leadership content is abundant, it’s not always sufficient.

Businesses are repeatedly paying – and overpaying at that – for the same content on a constant cycle. This is problematic for two reasons. First, this model creates a cost barrier for many and limits the number of people that businesses can afford to support. Second, it is failing to result in true, sustained behaviour change.

It’s therefore clear that there’s a discrepancy between the amount of L&D training available and the amount of L&D training that will deliver a businesses’ desired result. At AchieveForum, we’d like to ease that gap a bit. We propose a shift in mindset. Stop paying for content, and start paying for results.

The state of L&D

Many leadership and development programs are still preaching the words of the Industrial Age. The rules-based system that sought to define a set of tried and true processes, skills, and decisions just doesn’t cut it anymore. The Digital Age has ushered in problems that we’ve never faced before, and that calls for solutions we haven’t yet established. The name of the leadership game today is behavior change and sustainment.

To start, businesses need dedicated training to actively change their work environment, to one that can support and foster their new behaviours. You cannot expect different results from the same setting.

Don’t substitute rules, formulas, or processes for judgement. An open-minded team and environment is necessary to make effective change.

The team should be encouraged to learn from themselves, from their peers, and through emotion. Solutions are not always so cut and dry. In times of crises, the team should learn to take a step back and use rational thought and emotion to decide the next necessary action. Encourage open conversations that bring all perspectives to the table. This will allow your team to learn from each other, growing together as a unit and separately as individuals.

Leadership development at scale

Why is this important? We know that L&D professionals, and those specifically with a leadership development remit, are tasked with building a solid leadership pipeline. We are not just talking about who will take the CEO’s place when she moves on; we are talking about focusing on succession planning for the business as a whole.

Where are the next innovators, collaborators, middle managers, senior executives, project leaders coming from? Is there an established culture that is fertile ground for individual contributor employees to fulfil their potential, work with purpose, and raise standards? Is there a coaching culture that allows all employees to learn and grow their capabilities?

We believe that everyone leads every day, regardless of formal authority, and democratised access to the best leadership resources is necessary to ensure success every time these moments occur.

Cost should never be a barrier in the pursuit of leadership success

Democratised access to leadership resources is more than just a mission statement for us; we are 100% committed to making it a reality.

We’ve introduced Universal Access to start. This brand-new, open-source model makes many of our best programs available to anyone, free of charge. These leadership development courses include instructor-led classes, fully-editable course materials, and supplemental documents to share with the team in any way you'd like.

Rather than create more and more programs, we’re focused on introducing innovative tools to foster leadership success for the long term. We need to follow the employee every step of the way, offering up processes that ensure the individual is applying what they’ve learned indefinitely. We need to shift our focus from putting money into content to putting money into effective behaviour change and sustainment.

Want to learn more?

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