Leadership development: Keeping it in the family

May 20, 2015 by Wally Bock

I did supervisory training for newly promoted police sergeants for decades. Every three day program included at least two panels of experienced sergeants with street cred. They were always among the favorite parts of the program.

It makes sense. Sure I was an “expert,” but I could never have the credibility that a highly esteemed working sergeant had. In time I learned to use that to make the entire program better. I thought about that “street cred” issue when I read an Economist article titled: “Keeping it on the company campus.” Here’s the money quote.

“Firms looking to put their managers through development programmes are increasingly creating their own, rather than relying on business schools, consulting firms and the like. Companies are not only spending more of their training budgets in-house but are setting up their own ‘corporate universities’.”

Leadership development classes should be taught by real leaders

Experts are fine, but they are always at least arms-length from the real world of the people in your leadership development program. Sure, we can provide perspective and a look at leadership issues across organizations, but for the really gritty, everyday how-tos, I’ll take an insider practitioner every time. You may not be ready for some kind of formal “corporate university,” but you can improve your leadership development by using more insider experts.

Leadership development domains of excellence

In 2006, the Harvard Business Review published a classic article by Boris Groysberg, Andrew N. McLean, and Nitin Nohria titled “Are leaders portable?” The authors identified four kinds of “human capital,” that I think of as domains of leadership excellence.

Strategic human capital grows through developmental assignments. Relationship human capital develops in the workflow. Even so, sessions on those domains taught by expert practitioners can accelerate the process.

But the really big benefits come in the domains of Industry human capital and Company-specific human capital. That’s where you can leverage the knowledge, skill, and reputations of your top performers. No outside expert can match what they bring to the classroom.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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