Organisations spend a fortune on leadership development programmes every year. Universities and training providers continually develop and market new leadership development programmes, each proclaiming to be better and more effective than its predecessor. It is becoming standard practice to send aspiring leaders on the latest revolutionary leadership development programme in the hope that this will provide that elusive answer to all our problems.
But … leadership development doesn’t develop leaders … so let me explain why I’m making such an outrageous claim. The first step is to be clear about the definition of leadership development.
- LEADERSHIP is a PROCESS
- LEADERS are PEOPLE
Every organisation has processes and therefore already has leadership in place. For example, think about all the processes you have experienced at some stage in your life — performance reviews — appraisal — team briefings — strategic planning — goal setting — recruitment — induction — coaching — mentoring (to name just a few). All of these are processes are fundamental building blocks of any organisation’s practice so they are part of the leadership infrastructure. But if leadership is a process then … leadership development is surely the development of processes.
There is a place for this because organisations need to build knowledge, concepts and understanding in their processes but I would argue that we need to do things differently if we want to build capacity within our leaders. We need to stop focusing on developing leadership (the process) and put a much greater emphasis on developing leaders (the people).
Sounds so simple and obvious … so how do we do this … watch this space …