Find What Fits and Make it Stick

leadershipYou know the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute”? Well, that same phrase could be applied to new leadership development programs as well. It seems every training organization and leadership coach has unlocked the mystery of developing successful leaders with their unique programs, and they’ll share that secret with you for only a few thousand dollars per person. Practitioners receive dozens of emails a day pitching these new programs. They’re all compelling in different ways, and several of them likely have quality content.

The problem, however, isn’t the content of the program, but how that program is applied for the long term in the workplace. Because practitioners are constantly being bombarded with the latest trendy program, it’s easy to take a “trial and error” approach to organizational development. One year you invest in the MBTI, and the next year you try DiSC. When that gets old, you switch to StrengthFinder. While your employees may enjoy the programs and learn something new about one another each time, you’re not really investing in their continued self-development. Instead of building a whole house, you’re just pouring the concrete foundation over and over in different locations.

To create real, meaningful change, you need to choose one theory or leadership development program and build on it over time. This will help you create a foundation for adding new skills and techniques instead of reinventing the employee development wheel every year. The leadership philosophy you build on year after year then becomes ingrained as part of the culture. The message is consistent and clear. Employees who have attended the development program begin using a common vocabulary to share their experiences. They build the tools they need to support and mentor one another.

Finding one development program and sticking to it will pay off in the long term as well. When you connect experienced senior leaders who are preparing for retirement with next generation leaders or high potentials, they will also share the same vocabulary making knowledge transfer even easier. The experienced leader can mentor the emerging leader using the same behaviors they’ve learned and implemented from years of dedication to the same leadership-building program and philosophy.

Once you find a program that really works, invest your time and energy into maximizing and building upon that experience instead of creating confusion by replacing it again and again.