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Christopher Thompson's Closing The Deal: Concerning leadership development

March 15. 2014 9:05PM

ONE OF MY favorite topics to discuss is leadership. While it's a broad topic, leadership applies to everyone and it's something we can all relate to. Everyone who has had a career in business has a leadership story to tell.

We all have personal experiences with leaders we have worked for who had a profound and positive impact on our career. And unfortunately, we all have stories about managers and leaders we worked for that should be barred from the profession.

That aside, there are some very concerning trends regarding leadership that are critical for everyone to be aware of. As I mentioned in my column a few weeks ago, people in leadership positions directly influence the success of the people they manage, but more importantly, they impact the personal lives of their employees as well.

It's often said that people don't quit companies, they quit managers. And from what I've seen, that couldn't be truer. And as I mentioned, we can all relate to that.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when promoting people into management positions is assuming that just because someone is good at their job, they will make a great manager and leader. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that theory prove horribly wrong. Unfortunately, most companies fail to recognize the impact learning and development has on the effectiveness of their leaders.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, is by far one of the most effective and successful leaders of our time. I think he put it best when he said, "Leaders aren't born; they are made." But what is often missed and rarely discussed is how they are made. And the statistics I'm about to share will shine light on that exact issue.

Listed below are statistics that were published on March 7, 2013, in a research bulletin from Bersin by Deloitte ( titled, "Five Trends in Leveraging Leadership Development to Drive a Competitive Advantage."

In my humble opinion, this is some of the most valuable, relevant and timely research related to trends in leadership development and should be read by everyone in a leadership role as well as anyone responsible for the development of leaders within their organization. While the research findings are well documented, the results are extremely concerning.

. Approximately 50 percent of organizations studied believe that their midlevel leaders are highly capable, and even fewer, 30 percent, trust that their first-line managers are capable.

. Nearly three-quarters of all leadership teams studied fail to achieve business goals.

. Nearly 6 in 10 global leaders studied consider a lack of leadership to be a major cause of their company's inability to deal with business change.

. On average, organizations spend $6,016 annually on professional development for each senior leader development and $7,116 in leadership development for people considered to be "high potentials."

. Seventy percent of learning is through practice and on the job experience versus only 10 percent of learning occurring through formal education based learning interventions.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Effective leadership is what makes or breaks the success of an organization. Yet for some odd reason, companies fail their managers and leaders when it comes to developing their skills and ensuring their long-term success. If the Bersin by Deloitte research doesn't drive home that point, solicit feedback from your employees to confirm what we all know.


Christopher Thompson ( writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News. He is a vice president at Nashua's Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft.


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