By Kelley Reynard
Did you complete your three or four year course at University, enter the workforce and think, why did I need to sit in a classroom for hours on end listening to lectures when I am learning everything on the job? You are not alone. Majority of graduates around the world feel underprepared in their transition from University to the workplace, experience discomfort when confronted with challenges or obstacles, and feel that most of the skills required for their role are learnt on the job.
This situation mirrors that of leadership programs and the reasons why they ultimately fail. Having knowledge and a detailed understanding of leadership by reading books or doing a course at University won’t necessarily make a great leader. Being an expert in the theoretical component of leadership is all well and good; however the gap remains about what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders. A CEO or Executive could know what to say or do by reading books or attending courses, however if they can’t experience the risk, discomfort, and uncertainty of saying or doing it, and don’t have the emotional courage to speak up when others are silent and respond to political opposition, can they really be considered a leader?
Emotional courage distinguishes powerful leaders from weak ones, and this is something that cannot be learned from reading a book or attending a course. When organisations implement leadership development programs with the aim of changing behaviour, they are more often than not disappointed with the results and outcomes expected for significant and sustained behaviour change.
How to ensure your company’s leadership development program is successful
Call in the experts. Firms who specialise in leadership assessment and development are specialists in the field, and can ensure the learnt knowledge is applied to the working environment in real time, with real colleagues, doing real work. People need to be taken out of their comfort zone and be provided with situations they find uncomfortable and truly take the time to connect with the sensations that come with that. To play it safe is to ultimately fail. People need to give each other real feedback, in real time, face-to-face with each other; none of this anonymous written feedback that protects a person’s integrity.
When selecting a firm to work with to implement a leadership development program, ensure the curriculum reinforces and integrates leadership development into the work itself, and teaches leadership in a way that requires emotional courage. The more people take the risk to have challenging conversations and try new behaviours, the more these risks and behaviours will become paramount when it matters most.