imagesOK, just one more day on this subject. Pinkie swear. I can’t resist the topic because I’m trying so hard to develop leadership development and management development programs that actually work, not ones that fail. And I must admit that I haven’t cracked the code for success yet either.

So if you’ve been paying attention to the last two days, I’ve been commenting on the McKinsey article on Why Leadership Development Programs Fail.

The biggest problem I’ve found and that is not mentioned in the article, is that most leadership development programs don’t have a concrete measurable objective. While the article mentions measurement as an issue (and this is a dirty secret of the training industry) it doesn’t go far enough.

If you don’t have a measurable objective, how will you know whether or not you’ve succeeded?

So setting out to implement a leadership development program is a waste of time and money if you can’t describe your objective.

Improve leadership? What kind of namby-pamby motherhood objective is that? We can’t even define what leadership is, let alone agree on how to improve it. And if we can’t even define it, and everyone does it differently, how can we measure it?

What we can do is define management skills (as opposed to leadership skills) as these are functional logical skills that can be measured. These we can set concrete objectives for improving that measure quality, cost, and speed.

So then how do we make sure people are learning leadership behaviours. Well, we expose them to good leaders, good mentors, good coaches. We let them try things out and we let them talk with their peers. This isn’t a classroom program and this is the fundamental problem with leadership development programs, we’re doing it entirely the wrong way.