The Quick Summary
Many organizations are more than happy to throw budget at things like new computers, a fancy company-wide software subscription, or new furniture for the office. An often overlooked area of need, however, is Leadership Development. Many teams just hope that the person they just promoted is as good of a leader as they were at individually performing, not recognizing that they're setting their people (and potentially, their company) for failure, as a result.
For the full story, keep reading.
How are you deciding where to invest your budget?
I recently worked with a client that mentioned how hard it was for them to scrounge up funds for Learning and Development in their organization because management always preferred to invest in things that were "required for mission enablement." What this group considered to be part of mission enablement fell almost exclusively into these categories- direct product/service production, new facilities, new tools, and increased headcount. This group didn't consider developing leaders for a healthy future of the organization to be critical to enabling them to fulfill their mission. Let me ask you some questions-
If you owned a construction company, would you spend $400,000 dollars on a state-of-the-art bulldozer and then hand it over to a worker that's never driven before?
If you owned an airline, would you trust an untrained flight attendant to pilot a Boeing 737 filled with passengers, simply because they had been on so many successful flights?
If you were a banker, would you give a loan for a restaurant to a server who never really seemed interested in owning restaurants, never even ran one, but felt like they needed to open one because it was the next “natural step” in their life progression plan?
...I certainly hope not.
However, so many of us move people into a position of leadership and fail to recognize the huge gap between what they've been doing and what we are now asking them to do. Most leaders got to their position because they were great "doers." Perhaps they had really impressive achievements over their career. But when we move these people into positions where they are leaders of other people, the nature of their job is fundamentally different. It is a transition away from front-line execution, and towards bringing the best out of the people around you. As a leader, you are now an engineer of environments. Your primary job is to create an environment where your people thrive, not just you. So, we can get our managers all of the tools, toys, and hiring budget we want, but if the people who will be executing this work don't know how to have hard conversations, delegate, mentor, and inspire their people, it will be money thrown down the drain.
Leadership Development is crucial to the long-term success of any organization. It's the only way that we can trust the future of our orgs to be a bright one. Make sure you don't give the keys to your company to a leadership team who has now idea how to run it.
Look into starting a Leadership Development program at your place of work. If you can't build something solely focused on leaders, look into building a Learning and Development strategy and/or team for the whole org. If you don't think you have the budget, do some research to see what's out there, see how they structure it, and see if you can at least build a self-service model that potential leaders can follow where they will be exposed to new and powerful concepts that will develop their leadership talents. Things like book clubs/reading lists, required viewing of impactful videos, and consistent meetings to discuss progress and questions can all be parts of an inexpensive solution as well. Most importantly, outline what leadership qualities your team needs and wants, then make a plan for how you can identify potential leaders and give them the resources to become truly great leaders of people!