Leadership development: Developing fad-resistant leaders

August 24, 2016 by Wally Bock

“Oh, we’re ‘agile’ all right,” my young friend said, “We hop from fad to fad so fast it makes you dizzy.”

I laughed, but it wasn’t really funny. Sharon had been with her current company for five years. By her count, they had run through seven “magical” (her word) programs which were designed to “fix everything all at once. When we’re done cascading the latest packaged BS through the company, no one will even have acne anymore.”

I laughed again. It still wasn’t funny.

Leadership development and the madness of fads

Leadership development should be about solid leadership principles and methods. Those haven’t changed in a very long time. Set clear expectations. Give frequent, helpful, and actionable feedback. Treat people fairly and consistently. They’re the things that great leaders do.

Fads are different. They promise magical results with no effort except the suspension of disbelief. They almost always use a current buzzword, like “neuroscience” or “disruption.”

Most fad-crazed companies never find out if any of them work. That’s because they’ve moved on to the next fad so fast.

The first step in developing fad-resistant leaders is simple. Rid your leadership development program of all fads, foreign and domestic.

Developing fad-resistant leaders

Yes, we live in in a business environment that values the ability to learn quickly as situations change. But that means changing tactics, not the core competencies of leadership. Fads get in the way of real agility. And they make it more likely that you’ll fool yourself about making progress.

Help your aspiring leaders become fad resistant. Teach them to spot fads and call BS on them.

The best leaders are the ones who pay attention to the basics and don’t fool themselves. They’re the ones you want your leadership development program to develop.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

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