Despite extensive use of competency models and annual performance appraisals, our research shows that only 10 percent of leaders have an individual or personal development plan and are actively making progress on it.
What’s going on? Most leaders are career driven and want personal and professional growth. Many want promotions, bigger opportunities, and higher levels of responsibility — they want to make a difference.
We’ve found two big causes of this personal development gap are ownership and relevance. Many leaders report that succession planning, performance management, or leadership development aren’t energizing — are even enervating — and aren’t linked to organizational priorities. Development plans are often someone else’s view of what skills he or she should develop. The leader has little ownership of, and passion for, developing those skills.
The relevance or linking of a leader’s personal development to the organization is vital because:
- Leadership differs from one context to another. For example, leaders in very technical roles need different skills than those in sales or HR. Senior executives need different strategic skills than supervisors.
- An organization’s culture and circumstances create differing leadership needs. Norms, values, systems, structure, industry, processes, and economic conditions have a big influence on which behaviors will help a leader flounder or flourish.
- Focusing just on an individual’s development may not leverage the organization’s investment. Win/win growth partnerships are the most sustainable and likely to benefit everyone.
Over 15 years of developing nearly 100,000 leaders through our strengths-based Extraordinary Leader development system confirms that merging development of personal strengths, with the learner’s passion, and the organization’s need for his or her role is by far the most powerful combination. Our pre/post 360 data from this three-pronged process shows rates of 2 to 3 times more improvement in leadership effectiveness than traditional approaches.
Building Strengths That Matter
Connecting Strengths and Passions to the Needs of the Organization
You can learn more about this research and approach by downloading a copy of the white paper Discovering and Developing Hidden Reservoirs of Talent.