Leadership development: Ticking the Boxes is Not Enough

August 1, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is about helping aspiring leaders grow. Yon can expand their knowledge quickly. Maturity and people skills are another matter. You rush that learning at your peril. Accelerated development comes with risks.

Dr. Ines Wichert wrote an article for Training Journal about “Avoiding the pitfalls of accelerated leadership development,” She starts with the premise that we need to accelerate development because of Boomer retirements and the “new” leadership challenges of a VUCA environment. After claiming that we can shorten development time by “25-30%,” she says this.

“However, accelerated leadership development comes with several pitfalls. The most significant of these are burnout, derailment in role and incomplete learning, which can lead to underdeveloped people skills and the failure of becoming a well-rounded leader who understands the finer nuances of any given situation.”

Read that again slowly. The risks are burnout, career derailment, incomplete learning, underdeveloped people skills, and failure to become a well-rounded person and leader. Those are big risks for both the aspiring leader, the people he or she leads, and the company.

Leadership development and people skills

Move people rapidly though several assignments and they may learn a lot, but they may not grow much. You can learn the language and lore of a variety of specialties quickly. That’s not what makes great leaders, though. People skills and savvy judgement make great leaders.

Leadership development and the learning loop

You learn the most important leadership lessons the hard way. You learn them by making mistakes and reaping the consequences, then reflecting on the consequences and changing your ways.

You don’t reap the consequences if you aren’t around anymore. If you’re an aspiring leader who’s already two assignments down the road, you’ll learn about the consequences, but you won’t experience them. That makes it hard to learn from your mistakes. And you’re probably still making the mistakes you made a couple of assignments back.

Leadership development takes time

The hard and necessary part of leadership development is developing people skills and judgement through experience. You can rush a lot of things, but you can’t rush them.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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