Building Great Leaders

Why Businesses Are Struggling To Fill The “Gaps” In Leadership Development

Is your organization seeing top talent consistently drop off or leave? Is your company struggling to retain millennial employees? Are you wondering why your learning and development efforts to build leadership skills internally seems to be missing the mark?

Well, you aren’t alone, even in the slightest. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s Predictions for 2016 Report, “86 percent of companies globally cite “gaps in their leadership pipeline” as one of their top three issues and these gaps are occurring at all levels of the organization.

The report points out three common issues in leadership development programs companies wishing to fill the gaps need to consider and address.

Leadership Investment is Inconsistent

The report shows that companies who excel in providing effective leadership development invest roughly 4 times the amount of resources than others and in turn, are seeing outsized returns on their investment.

Takeaway: If you are serious in building an effective leadership program you have to be willing to make an investment, and consistently invest in your leadership development programs.

Leadership Roles Are Changing

The role of leaders has moved towards a team dynamic, versus the traditional top-down hierarchy, which requires a new type of training in the skills (especially soft skills) needed to successful manage this new role. The report also points out the shift of greatest importance moving to “front-line leaders”, taking the traditional pyramid leadership shape and flipping it over.

Takeaway: A focus on soft skills that speak to these new types of leadership roles will help fill in the gaps needed to successful take of these positions.

A New Type of Leadership is Emerging

We are in the era of a shift in leadership motivation and philosophy. Millennial leaders are not motivated as much by power or position, but more se by the impact they have to encourage and empower their team to drive inspiration and positive change. According to Bersin, many companies are still overly attached to old leadership models and slow development times. This is sparking a disconnect amongst millennial leaders.

Takeaway: Top leadership development programs today accelerate progression up the leadership ladder to keep up with and support new expectations.

Your Leadership Development Program Needs Soft Skills Training

Sales training; compliance training; even harassment training: For the most part, these all have fairly concrete content objectives. Leadership training can be a lot trickier simply because it’s a fluid concept. Often one of the elements that missing from a leadership program is relevant soft skills training that’s relevant to the new roles in leadership.

When asked what some of the most important skills they’d like to learn, millennials responded to Deloitte with a surprising spectrum of soft–but still vital– leadership skills, such as:

  • How to identify and invest in the right growth opportunities.
  • How to improve fair dealings with vendors, suppliers, team members, and customers.
  • Creating innovative solutions to drive opportunity within the organization.
  • How to create a positive impact through roles and responsibilities.
  • How to gain a mentor and how to be an effective mentor to other employees.

Rather than just wanting to learn how to be a leader, millennials understand–perhaps better than any other generation of worker–that leadership skills are the sum of a handful of other soft skills that combine to create a well-rounded innovator. Unfortunately, organizations often simply force the same hard skill training on all employees, leaving their token millennials feeling frustrated, underutilized, and eager to find a job that respects and supports their aspirations.

Micro-Leadership Development?

Ever wonder why Twitter was so transformative, and why we all agree to condense our brilliant thoughts into 140 characters or less? It’s because we have become overloaded with information, and our attention spans to take in that information have drastically decreased. So how do you reach a workforce with minimal attention spans, and train them to be the next wave of leaders at your company?

It’s called Microlearning. (We have a free eBook here to get a deep dive into Microlearning) This eLearning and instructional design method allows the learner to receive short, easy to digest learning lessons that build upon each other over time. So basically, instead of overloading today’s distracted workforce with a bunch of information at once that they will never remember, microlearning play off of short attention spans and the power of retention through spaced out repetition of information.

To paint a picture of what this might look like for your leadership program. This cuts out hours of ineffective training modules, and allows more time for mentorship and feedback in between training sessions.

It’s time to face the facts.

Your traditional leadership program won’t keep your smart, enthusiastic, and most creative workers in-house.

Thinking of your leadership program with a soft skills angle built through microlearning might be the piece you’re missing to your learning and retention puzzle. If you want millennial employees (or any of your current employees for that matter) to invest in your organization, you first have to prove that you’re willing to invest in them–and their climb to the C-suite.