The Human Resources professional’s role is not always in the organizational spotlight. That space is reserved for the organizational leader. Once in the spotlight, all of the characteristics of the leader are highlighted, from both a positive and a negative perspective. In either case, there is increased focus on the need for the leader to improve upon any perceived negative leadership traits in order to increase the level of positive leadership.
Where then should the focus be in order to support positive leadership development?
We need to let the statistics do the talking.
As noted in a recent article provided by the Society for Human Resource Management, there is an alarming rate of leadership development programs resulting in failure for the very leaders these programs are intended to assist.
Why? The statistics seem to indicate that the professional development being provided is not in line with the practical needs of the leader. What is needed by the leader is not what is evaluated by the organization. Evaluation comes with measuring real results and adjusting the organizational course when it is clear that those results do not meet organizational needs.
The article raises an important distinction between ‘edu-trainment’ and true learning based on objective measures for the development of sustainable leadership capabilities. The Human Resources role is integral in maintaining learning programs where results are intentional, observable and measurable, ensuring the right kind of leadership development programs for all leadership roles within the organization.
As Human Resources professionals, we have the capacity to observe what is needed outside of the glare of the spotlight. From that perspective, we can see what is real; where the problems are; discern the difference between insipid inspiration and true leadership competencies; and establish learning outcomes for leaders that are measurable and sustainable. The Human Resources professional has the capacity and the obligation to ensure that valid organizational metrics are established. These should evaluate leadership development through a direct connection to the performance of employees and the results of the organization that the leader serves.
Human Resources will have its time in the spotlight when it is needed. In the meantime, there is always leadership work to be designed and done.
- From your reading of the article, why do you think the author recommends that we ‘stop chasing inspiration’ as part of leadership development?
- Identify five specific metrics that an organization should implement that measure leadership development and provide a connection to organizational impact.
- Do you agree that HR is able to design programs that leadership development in a positive way? Why or why not?