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The Importance of Leadership Development

The most compelling products, inspiring mission statements, and revolutionary business models don’t mean a thing without effective, capable leadership. A nuclear warhead is a powerful weapon, but without a commander that knows how to aim it and launch it, its little more than an expensive lawn ornament.

The same goes for businesses dealing with shifts in technology. Without leaders who can identify emerging challenges and motivate effective organizational responses, these organizations will be stuck treading water, or worse, sinking.

That’s according to Fesser, Nielsen, and Rennie at McKinsey, who explain that the results of McKinsey’s latest executive survey reveal an executive landscape ripe with trepidation about their organization’s inability to produce and develop effective leaders.

Dissatisfaction With Leadership

The evidence that effective, forward-thinking leaders are in high demand is “overwhelming.” According to a recent survey by Fortune magazine, only 7 percent of CEOs report that their company is building effective global leaders, and a paltry 10 percent say their leadership development programs have a clear, relevant impact.

This is corroborated by McKinsey’s most recent survey, in which only 11 percent of C-suite executives “strongly agreed” that their companies’ leadership development initiatives achieve their desired results.

The need for better leaders, and better leadership development tactics, is apparent.

Mapping Leadership to Strategy

The McKinsey survey revealed that executives feel their businesses frequently fail to translate their strategy into a leadership model that reflects it. Put differently, many CEOs fear that though they have a leadership development program, it is not relevant to what their company actually needs in a leader.

Prioritizing specificity, customization, and strategic design in implementing a leadership program, according to McKinsey, produces leaders who are four times better prepared to lead their organization through times of change.

And frankly, when isn’t a time of change in today’s business world?

Transferring and Applying Learning

The reality is that our most meaningful and lasting learning experiences at work tend to occur when we are faced with a real-life problem and have to solve it, not when we clicked the correct multiple choice answer in an online training module or participated in a role-playing exercise at a company retreat.

That’s why it is so important that companies prioritize real-world application of their training principles in addition to requiring traditional classroom trainings. According to McKinsey, companies that required training participants to apply their new knowledge in their actual job settings for an extended period of time after the training session were four to five times more likely to report that their leadership development programs were “successful.”

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As technology revolutionizes business at a faster and faster rate, the need to effective, agile, forward-thinking leadership has become more important than ever. By choosing the right leaders, and the right leadership development programs, you can position your company for success, now and in the future.

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