learning and development either ignites or impedes culture shift

Recently I delivered a virtual keynote presentation to a national forum of senior executives on leading change and culture development. During these crazy times, strong leadership is more critical than ever.

A central focus of the forum was the pivotal role of learning and development in change efforts. I presented four points that generated a lively debate in a panel of change experts and seasoned executives. We discussed how these points determine whether changes will succeed or fail:

Shift Wrapping: Understanding and Buy-In Are Critical to Culture Change

If team members don’t share their leader’s urgency for change, the effort will fail. That’s especially true of today’s “Generation Why.” Most people — and especially millennials — won’t follow leaders who don’t help them understand why shifts are needed.

A common change leadership trap is confusing information and communication. Like a doctor hearing a complaint of a headache, communication problems are often signs of deeper issues. There’s rarely a quick and easy solution. We’ve found eight interconnected causes of communication breakdowns.

Don’t Step in the Leadership: Behaviors Flow Downhill

The most effective communication is verbal. The most believable communication is behavior. Many leaders are frustrated that people in their organization aren’t getting their messages. But they are. They see the message loud and clear. You can’t change “them.” You have to change us.

Leaders who don’t visibly model the culture change they want are on that road to insanity; doing the same thing while expecting different results. Too often, leaders are me-deep in fooling themselves. They don’t realize how their audio and video aren’t in sync because they’re not getting unfiltered feedback on their behavior.

The Great Training Robbery: 90% of Development Efforts Don’t Change Behavior

Leadership development is mostly ineffective. One reason is a “once and done” approach to dunking trainees in the training tank. This can make things worse by raising awareness without shifting behavior.

We’ve found a simple formula for lasting and effective leadership and organization development; B = P x C. That is, Behavior is a factor of Personal development multiplied by the organization’s Culture. Are you culprit in the great training robbery?

Time to Skill: Want-To Needs How-To

Leaders often believe motivation leads to application. Sometimes that’s true. Some people know what to do but aren’t doing it. More often, people want to be more effective but don’t know how. We frequently see this in our executive coaching programs. These start with a 360 assessment.

Lower rated leaders have often been frustrated by their low impact on engagement, service levels, safety, quality, etc. By learning to build on their strengths, leaders can find their leadership sweet spot at the maximum leverage point of their strongest competencies, passion, and organizational needs.

Are your learning and development efforts igniting or impeding your culture development efforts? How do you know?