Leadership development for Front-line Leaders

March 20, 2019 by Wally Bock

Leadership development is another place in life where what we do reveals our values. If you follow the money, you’ll find that most companies lavish leadership development funds on the people at the top of the pyramid. Leaders at the bottom get little. Here’s how Verity Creedy of DDI describes the situation.

But all this got me thinking about the sort of investments CFOs are asked to make—technical education, behavioral training, and, of course, leadership skill development—and where they commonly spend the most money. Chief Learning Officer board data indicates that most investments are made at the senior level for succession planning and high-potential development, and that sat comfortably with me. That was until I realized the leadership level receiving some of the smallest allocation of development dollars is the one populated by the leaders leading the most people by far. In fact, 80 percent of a company’s employee population is led by frontline leaders.

Leadership Development and The Front-Line Leader

If you’re looking for a cause of the prevailing dissatisfaction with bosses, look no further than the leadership development help we give to front-line leaders. We spend a tiny fraction of the leadership development budget on them. There are more of them than any other kind of manager. And they supervise 80 percent of the people who work in the company.

Front-line leaders supervise the employees who have regular contact with customers. Font-line leaders include call center supervisors, customer service supervisors, sales managers, and technical support supervisors.  They affect the productivity and morale of the people who deal with customers.

Those customer-facing people are more likely to do a good job if their supervisors are effective. And their supervisors are more likely to be effective if you invest in their training and development.

If you don‘t help those critical front-line leaders learn to lead, they’ll do it on their own. . Then, you have no say in what advice they’re getting or what techniques they’re trying or how they evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

Think about this. The longer your front-line leaders go without training and guidance, the more bad habits they’re likely to adopt. If you don’t help them, those bad habits are likely to become impossible to break.

Leadership Development Bottom Line

Your front-line leaders have the most important and immediate impact on the productivity and morale of the people who serve your customers. It just doesn’t make sense to leave their development to chance.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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