From this study, its participants and their teams, I’ve drawn three important conclusions:
- Not everyone responds to executive development, at least not in the way the organization desires or intends. In other words, some people are trainable, some people are not. I ask participants at the end of each session if they intend to go back to their jobs and apply what they’ve learned. Almost 100 percent say yes! A year later, when I ask their direct reports if their bosses have applied the lessons learned on the job, about 70% say yes and 30% say no. Why would people go through a training, promise to implement what he/she had learned, and then not do it? Simply because they were too busy! This realization led to my second conclusion.
- There is an enormous disconnect between understanding and doing. Most leadership development revolves around the false assumption that if people understand they will do. In truth, most of us understand, we just don’t do. But this didn’t really answer my question. So, I rewired my objectives and began measuring people to see not only if they got better but why. My hunch about follow-up being the difference maker paid off. The results were astonishingly consistent. Those who do little or no follow-up with people have little or no perceived change in effectiveness. The perception of the effectiveness of those who do follow-up jumps dramatically. This led to a swift and unequivocal third conclusion.
- Leadership is a relationship not between the coach and the “coachee,” but between the leader and his or her colleagues.