Common Pitfalls Spoil Leadership Programs

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<p><strong>Princeton, N.J. &mdash; July 19</strong><br />Corporate leadership development programs often fail to achieve their objectives because of all-too familiar pitfalls, according to global consultants and trainers BlessingWhite.<br /><br />&ldquo;Senior executives go off-site for a team-building program with noble intentions and an ambitious agenda, but weeks afterward, they find so little benefit for their time and effort,&rdquo; said BlessingWhite Vice President of Consulting Stephen Parker. &ldquo;Regrettably, this is not unusual for executive development retreats. What surprises us is that many organizations continue to make the same mistakes.&rdquo;<br /><br />BlessingWhite identified five common pitfalls:</p><ul><li><strong>Urgency overrides preparation. </strong>Seeing a pressing need to address key issues, the CEO wants his team to meet as soon as possible, but such urgency may prevent effective preparation. The event becomes so time-driven that top management insists on squeezing it into the schedule, and there is not time enough to involve stakeholders beforehand.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Trendiness triumphs over consequence. </strong>Rather than concentrate on real business and strategic matters the program might become occupied with a discussion of the latest management best-seller.&nbsp; Participants might find the discussion diverting, but the substantive contribution will likely be marginal and the application zero. </li></ul><ul><li><strong>Participants fail to engage emotionally. </strong>Team members might not disagree with the thrust of the program but just as often leave the meeting with no reason to change &mdash; although everyone might nod in agreement, they might not necessarily come away caring enough to overcome the discomfort of trying something new. </li></ul><ul><li><strong>The CEO cannot contain himself.</strong> A leadership off-site seldom begins without the CEO calling upon everyone to &ldquo;speak up.&rdquo; But almost inevitably, the CEO mistakes vehemence for leadership and can scarcely keep his forceful personality in check. So, as expected, participants are intimidated, and candor is forfeited. </li></ul><ul><li><strong>Awkward issues are not confronted. </strong>Not surprisingly, team members are often not inclined to look at their own behaviors and personal flaws or to consider how they might affect performance.&nbsp; Effective leadership calls for self-awareness, as well as willingness to change. &nbsp;</li></ul><p>Parker said even the best development programs will fail to have an impact if the organization&rsquo;s culture is not receptive to change.&nbsp; </p><p>&ldquo;Too often executives want leadership development to be the magic pill, except that if a company&rsquo;s culture punishes risk taking &mdash; or worse, rewards the same behaviors that need changing &mdash; then training and development are beside the point.&rdquo;<br /><br />Parker also said HR professionals have a tendency to look for the &ldquo;new&rdquo; methodology or insight, neglecting&nbsp; classic, proven techniques for maximizing team performance and driving behavioral change.&nbsp; </p><p>&ldquo;With HR in charge, the new and sexy can drive out the good, when all the CEO wants is something that works,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />BlessingWhite is a global consulting firm dedicated to creating sustainable high-performance organizations.&nbsp; </p>

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