Leadership development: CEO Involvement is Key

April 10, 2019 by Wally Bock

Leadership development has a lot of moving parts. There are programs and evaluations. Forms get filled out. Development plans get drawn up. Meetings are held. 

In some companies, the result is a vibrant leadership development program. The program produces the leaders of the future, but also the leaders of the present. If leadership development is good throughout the company leadership is good. When leadership is good, retention, engagement, and profitability follow.

You can see most of the parts I mentioned in any leadership development program in any company. Some of them go through the motions but not much happens. Others develop leaders. The difference is at the top of the org chart. Leadership development is better when the CEO leads the charge.

Leadership Development: CEO Involvement Says It’s Important

A reporter asked General Douglas MacArthur why he exposed himself to enemy fire. His answer tells us something about what leadership, and thus, leadership development, is about.

“If I do it, the Colonels do it. And if the Colonels do it, the Captains do it. If the Captains do it, the Lieutenants do it.”

When the CEO is involved, the involvement says more than any memo, video, or all-hands meeting. It says, “Leadership development is so important, that I’m doing it. You should, too.”

Leadership Development: CEO Involvement Provides A Mental Model

Think about that Douglas MacArthur quote again. “If I do it, the Colonels do it.” The CEO sets the example for how leadership development work gets done in the company.

If he or she devotes full energy and attention to leadership development, managers up and down the org chart will do the same thing. If he or she holds subordinates accountable for being prepared and for energetic participation, managers up and down the org chart will do it, too.

Leadership Development Bottom Line

One of my Marine commanding officers said, “There is no leadership without leadership by example.” When the CEO sets the example for good leadership development, it’s much more likely to become a company value.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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