To Make a Transformation Succeed, Invest in Capability Building

Companies can vastly raise the odds of success if they take the time to build the needed capabilities.

Iris Bohnet

About $8 billion a year is spent on diversity trainings in the United States alone. Now, I tried very hard to find any evidence I could. […] Sadly enough, I did not find a single study that found that diversity training in fact leads to more diversity. Now, that’s disappointing, discouraging, but maybe when we unpack it also understandable. The unpacking means that there’s a … [ Read more ]

What’s Missing in Leadership Development?

We asked executives to tell us about the circumstances in which their leadership-development programs were effective and when they were not. We found that much needs to happen for leadership development to work at scale, and there is no “silver bullet” that will singlehandedly make the difference between success and failure. That said, statistically speaking, four sets of interventions appear to matter most: contextualizing the … [ Read more ]

Claire Hughes Johnson

If you don’t consistently teach more and more people how to make the decisions or find resolutions consistent with your company’s goals, you’re going to stall out. Trust saves a huge amount of time.

Claire Hughes Johnson

One of the biggest challenges any growing company faces is equipping employees with the information, agency and confidence to make decisions for the company on their own. As a founder or executive leader, you can’t always be there to make a call. You have to trust that others can do it in order to keep pushing the frontier of your business. To make this possible, … [ Read more ]

How to Play With Fire: Equip Your Next Generation of Leaders to Deal with Anything

The vast majority of organizations put too much leadership development emphasis on people who are already in traditional leadership roles. And not enough on the people who are the promise of the future.

Seth Godin

We’ve confirmed that vocational skills can be taught (you’re not born knowing engineering or copywriting or even graphic design, therefore they must be something we can teach), while we let ourselves off the hook when it comes to decision making, eager participation, dancing with fear, speaking with authority, working in teams, seeing the truth, speaking the truth, inspiring others, doing more than we’re asked, caring … [ Read more ]

Is Your Company’s Diversity Training Making You More Biased?

Although diversity and inclusion training is prevalent in corporate America, its impact is inconsistent. According to the evidence, sometimes the programs even have the opposite effect of what they intend. One 2016 study of 830 mandatory diversity training programs found that they often triggered a strong backlash against the ideas they promoted. “Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and … [ Read more ]

Paul B. Thornton

Effective feedback helps people see themselves in new ways.

Michael Beer

Training works when the organization is ready both in terms of the systemic culture and pattern of management that exists.

Michael Beer

The system of organizing and managing is so powerful that individuals and teams returning from training will not be able to be more effective unless the system enables them to apply their learning. So, efforts to change the system must come first.

Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders

Four factors lie at the heart of good, practical leadership development: making it experiential; influencing participants’ “being,” not just their “doing”; placing it into its wider, systemic context; and enrolling faculty who act less as experts and more as Sherpas.

Anders Ericsson

In domains like music, sports, where there’s a lot of individual training, you see the ratio between training and performance. You probably perform less than 1% of the time that you spent training. Whereas in business, it’s more like 99% performance and 1% training.

Todd Warner

Leaders want to get better in the here-and-now, not to be judged against a competency map or be sold an abstract theory about what leadership should look like. If you want to become a great leader, become a student of your context — understand your organization’s social system — and mind your routines. Leadership development is more about application than theory.

Stefan De Raedemaecker, Javier Feijoo, and David Jacquemont

Traditional corporate training programs still rely on classroom learning, even though researchers have long found that the classroom alone is a poor fit for adult learning patterns. Most adults instead need a mix of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

Cynthia McCauley

To be effective, every executive needs a broad perspective on both the organization and the business context that it operates within. This perspective can only come from having work experiences in different parts of the organization, in different businesses, and, for global companies, in different parts of the world. Although important, traditional leadership coaching, training, and mentoring programs—which most companies have focused on in their … [ Read more ]

Cynthia McCauley

Organizations must have systems in place to allow temporary assignments, and opportunities for people to take on work that’s not part of their official jobs, in order to keep people from hoarding talent or blocking its development. Leader development won’t succeed if the organization sets it up to be the responsibility solely of the talent management function within HR. It needs to be the joint … [ Read more ]

Peter Drucker

There’s a human law that says that the gap between the one at the top and the average is a constant. And it’s terribly hard to work on that huge average. You work on the few at the top, and you raise them, and the rest will follow.

Christopher Bartlett

The philosophy of case teaching, discussion-based learning, is really that by gathering together a group of smart capable people; presenting them with the kinds of challenges that a manager would face once in a year or once in a lifetime; doing that on a regular basis, 2-3 times a day; and getting them to go through the process that managers do—gathering the data and analyzing … [ Read more ]

Randall Beck

Companies waste a lot of time when they try to set up a development plan to make people become someone they’re not.