Leadership development and the tyranny of finance

October 29, 2014 by Wally Bock

The Corporate Life Cycle

I have my own theory of the corporate life cycle. In the beginning the people who rule the business are the people who make the product or deliver the service. The business is vibrant and growing.

Then the marketers take over. That’s not too bad, but then the accountants rule the roost. That’s when the business looks like it’s making money, while it rots slowly from the inside.

Leadership development looks expensive

Leadership development is one of the first casualties of a finance mentality. Through accounting eyes, leadership development looks like a cost center. You can’t calculate Return on Investment (ROI). Besides, you just need to get through the quarter, so a little cost cutting looks like a helpful thing.

Leadership development spending today

The result of an accounting focus is some unrealistic expectations. In her post about Accenture’s 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey, China Gorman says this.

“New graduates and entry level talents perceive that their organizations will provide them with career development training: 80% of 2014 graduates expect that their employer will provide the kind of formal training programs necessary for them to advance their careers. Despite this, the percentage of graduates that actually receive such training is low, creating a significant discrepancy between expectation and reality.”

According to the survey, only 48 percent of graduates get any kind of formal training on their first jobs. The other 52 percent may leave, but where will they go?

Peter Cappelli says that what employers really want is workers they don’t have to train. The companies that act that way expect to find and keep quality people. That’s not likely.

The best people will go where they’re appreciated

The best people, the ones with talent and drive and grit, will go where they’re appreciated. They’ll seek out companies who will invest time and money in them. Your company doesn’t have to do that, survival is not mandatory.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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