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How to Accelerate the Leaders You Already Have
As the economy slows and the potential for a recession looms, many firms are backpedaling hiring efforts, especially when it comes to executives and leaders. But despite the changes to the economic environment and labor market, growth mandates remain the same. In an environment like this, firms are beginning to ask themselves, “how do we get more out of the leaders we already have?”
This critical line of questioning couldn’t be more timely.
The Workforce is Unhappy
Across industries, the workforce is struggling. With The Great Resignation in their wake, those who have changed jobs over the last 18 months were hired into a chapter the workforce has never seen before. This ‘Brave New World of Work’ is characterized by isolation, exhaustion, desperation, and inflation.
Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report reflects a dire image of the workforce. Sixty percent of employees surveyed said they are emotionally detached at work, with 19% reporting being miserable. The majority (57%) of the world’s employees are neither engaged nor thriving. The numbers are cause for concern—and not just because disengaged employees are less productive and more likely to quit than engaged counterparts.
Many times, employee disengagement can be directly linked to leadership. According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Poor leaders create disengaged teams. Gallup estimates that disengagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.
Despite changing the way we work, we haven’t changed the way we develop leaders.
Why Most Leadership Development Falls Short
- It doesn’t actually add value. Everyone is busy at work; but no one more so than leaders at professional services and private equity firms. Every decision about how these executives spend their time comes at the expense of something else. That’s why leaders are particularly adept at gauging the value of activities relative to their time. It is clear to leaders when development is an afterthought. Development that don’t add any tangible value to leaders’ roles wont be worth the cost.
- It’s not personalized. Every leader’s growth journey is as unique as the leader themselves. While a leader may learn a new tactic or two from a classroom training, true acceleration requires a behavior transformation. The kind of transformation that must occur for a leader to reach their highest potential is only possible when the approach is bespoke: hyper-tailored to maximize the leaders’ strengths and improve on growth areas. A one-size-fits-all training might sound productive on paper, but it won’t transform behavior.
- It’s not connected to behaviors that actually drive success in the firm. Sure, training leaders on topics like collaboration and delegation may be a good idea, but does collaboration and delegation actually contribute to the firm’s success? How do you know? Every firm has a unique set of behaviors and values that define and drive success. But without gathering data to benchmark this ‘success DNA’ that’s embedded in the culture, you won’t know what these behaviors and values are, which means you can’t develop for them.
The High ROI of Bespoke Leadership Acceleration
It’s difficult to overstate the benefits of high-value, personalized, and data-driven leadership development program because it extends to every corner of the organization. Leaders who feel invested in by the organization are less likely to leave and more likely to give their discretionary time and effort to the firm. They’ll also be better equipped to build followership among their teams, thereby increasing employee engagement and organizational loyalty in tandem.
As such, developing the leaders you have will likely see a 2-3x return on investment versus hiring in new leadership talent that could take up to 18 months to show a ROI. Your leaders have committed to be a part of your organization. How much more valuable will their experience be if they feel invested in?
Getting the most out of leaders starts with developing and accelerating them, but not just as an adjacent benefit to ‘check a box.’ Leadership acceleration must be at the core of your strategy to utilize your current team to their highest and best use.