Vivek Chachra, country manager, India, Harvard Business Publishing told Business World that his company recently conducted a global research to identify trends and traits shared by successful leadership development initiatives in industry and uncover best practices.
The research, conducted on 700 individuals from companies around the world, was “uniquely directed” to reveal perceptions about management and leadership development by end users, such as business line managers.
In total, 56% of these individuals were business line managers and the remaining 44% were L&D managers. Furthermore, the survey showed that 90% of end-users had recently attended a leadership development course.
Chachra said that while there is real, measurable value to being a best-in-class leadership development organisation, few organisations believe they are running best-in-class leadership skill development programs.
“In general, leadership development initiatives are nearly omnipresent in today’s organisations, a trend that has evolved very rapidly. Most survey respondents said their organisations invested in leadership skill development: 90% have some programs in place and two-thirds have regular, structured initiatives,” Chachra said.
He added that these programs demonstrated real impact indicated by key highlights – the best in class are 94% more likely to report an impact on financial success; 70% more likely to report an impact on competitive position; 96% more likely to make L&D a strategic priority.
However, he cautioned that there is a clear, demonstrated gap between L&D and the business line on how they perceive program relevance and effectiveness.
“The research findings show that only 19% of business managers strongly agree that their programs have a high relevance to the real issues facing their organisations,” he said.
“In the case of L&D professionals, however, 110% are more likely to say that leadership development programs have a high degree of relevance to issues facing the business.”
All in all, Chachra suggests that the business line is not fully convinced that programs provide opportunities that align with the business and lead to a more effective workforce.
“These findings don’t surprise us, and I’m sure many of them don’t surprise you, either,” he said.
“While it’s easy to read this report as ‘gloom and doom’ – that L&D teams are consistently being overlooked, or not doing a great job responding to the needs of the business, there is a big silver lining here: leadership development programs, when they work, absolutely have an impact on business success.”
In this way, it’s a two-way street, Chachra said.
“Most organisations still don’t fully commit to leadership development’s role as a strategic need, one that provides true value to the bottom line. It is critical that business leaders realise that leadership development can be the lynchpin that connects strategy to success – given a chance,” he explains.
“Similarly, L&D should embrace more innovative technologies, do more to align with the needs of the business, adapt to the changing workforce, and lastly, develop more effective ways to measure program impact in their own organisations.”