You can’t lead if no one wants to follow you
So I nearly choked on my coffee and fell off my seat when at the 13th Annual Chicagoland Learning Leaders conference at Allstate on October 2nd, I heard this during a CLO panel discussion….
“You can’t lead if no one wants to follow you.”
Gail Leiber, Senior Director, Leadership & Executive Development, Abbott
For those of you that have seen me facilitate our flagship leadership program called Magnetic Leadership, my opening remarks in that program are those exact words! I did not pay Gail to say that at the conference! While Gail participated in Magnetic Leadershipa couple of years ago, I am hoping that comment came from the heart. Because she is right.
You can teach skills and competencies like business acumen and critical thinking until the cows come home, but it means nothing unless you know how to BEHAVE with other people. If those that you lead don’t want to come to work for you, one of two things will happen:
- They will choose to leave or
- you will be asked to leave
So why do companies and talent development functions invest so heavily in things like competency modeling, the latest leadership book and consulting, leadership skills training and 360 assessments? These are all great tools, but on their own teach us nothing about the most critical component of leadership; driving engagement and results through leadership behavior.
At the same conference I was co-speaking later that morning with Linh Lawler from Allstate. The focus of our discussion was spreading best practice in accelerating the readiness of our future leaders. We shared how we embedded our behavior-focused business simulation, Magnetic Leadership, into her future leader HiPo program with great success. Linh has created a leadership program that embodies the 70/20/10 methodology (https://www.702010forum.com/about-702010-framework) and made sure the 10% gave her impact that showed up immediately as ROI. Her whole program has a new, fresh approach to leadership development, and it works.
“Organizations will spend over $13 billion this year on leadership development. Most of that money won't be used wisely, if you ask the executives who responded to i4cp's annual Critical Human Capital Issues study. Most--67%--said their organizations' leadership development programs don't work. And that percentage has increased since 2010.
Why do so many organizations fail at leadership development? It's mostly because many leadership development programs are based solely on competencies rather than behaviors, and don't effectively make the connection between the two.”
Institute for Corporate Productivity from i4cp | June 18, 2014, Issue 598
Thank you Gail, thank you i4cp, thank you Allstate and our other forward thinking clients who get it. Let’s not forget we need leaders who know how to behave. ELearning, 360 assessments, virtual programs and computer simulations can't mimic human behavior. Accelerating leadership development is easy if we do the simple things right. We need to stop doing it the way we’ve done it for the last 10 years, think about how to enhance what we do and create more self-aware leaders. Self-aware leaders know what it takes to be a great leader, know what they need to work on to get there, and will help create a culture of feedback.
Self-awareness is a global challenge, as Karen O’Leonard from Bersin by Deloitte sums up nicely in her blog:http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/Developing-Leaders-in-Asia.aspx
A client told me last week they were about to renew a seven figure contract with a leadership development firm that seems to always be in the top 20 each year, yet they knew the programs were not effective or relevant anymore. Over $13 billion invested with a 67% failure rate...
- The Fix for Your Failing Leadership Development Program: (http://www.i4cp.com/trendwatchers/2014/06/18/the-fix-for-your-failing-leadership-development-program)
- Developing Leaders in Asia: (http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/Developing-Leaders-in-Asia.aspx)
- The Power of Self-Awareness in Developing Leaders:(http://www.profitability.com/us/blog/post/self-awareness-in-developing-leaders)
- You can’t lead if no one wants to follow you. Just because you have a MBA from a top 5 B-School, and you can create fancy spreadsheets, doesn’t make you a great leader.
- Leadership development programs need a module/element on behavior. This needs to go beyond 360’s and coaching, and take a look at leaders’ true self-awareness.
- While the 70/20/10 framework might be old news, there will always be a place for classroom learning. Just make sure it is effective and gives you and the learners a ROI.
- Just because you’ve “done it that way” for the last 10 years, doesn’t mean it works today.