Leadership development for a new world

May 31, 2017 by Wally Bock

Over at The Context of Things, Ted Bauer suggests that “Leadership training needs to be blown up and redone.” Here’s the money quote.

“Mainly what changed was technology and access to information, be that via the Internet, mobile, or the cloud. A 1972 Fortune 500 CEO had to have a team of lieutenants to run/organize information for him. Now he has access to the same stuff that probably a 17-year-old girl in Anaheim could get on her phone, minus maybe some proprietary documents. Information is freer, which requires a new look at leadership — and a new look at leadership training.”

He’s dead right. The information revolution subverted the command and control model. Frederick Taylor’s little instruction cards that leaders used to tell everyone else what to do in fine-grained detail won’t work anymore. So, leadership has to change. Leadership training must change, too. But that’s not all because developing leaders means more than simply training them.

Leadership development should be leadership tryouts

For generations, companies put people in leadership roles because they were good at something else. The result was battalions of leaders who loved the perks, but didn’t like the leadership work they had to do every day. Psychological testing can help us make better selections, but we also need developmental assignments that function as leadership tryouts, for both the company and the aspiring leader.

Leadership development requires access to information

Many companies give fervent lip service to “empowerment,” but limit access to information. Sure, there’s some information that should be closely guarded, but most company information should be available to any leader who thinks she or he needs it.

Bottom Line

Training is an important part of leadership development and it needs to change. But aspiring leaders should be required to try out for leadership positions and try on the role. Most information should be freely available.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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