Leadership Development is more than On-the-Job
I’ve spoken to thousands of executives who today are the top of a company, and I’ve asked them all the same three questions. First: Earlier in your career, did you experience leadership coaching and/or management training that significantly impacted your elevation from manager to executive? In response, the vast majority of older executives I’ve spoken with said yes.
My follow-up question: Are you investing in your employees with the same degree of leadership and management coaching and training? The vast majority of older executives said no.
My final question: How do you expect your employees to learn the leadership skills and tools that you possess if you’re not investing in similar formal training and coaching? The vast majority of executives blinked once or twice. I almost could see a lightbulb go off in their head.
When talking about their development, most executives point to a mix of sources that spurred their rise from manager to executive. A training program, tied in with some mentorship and coaching, plus some big responsibility from their supervisors who delegated to them a handful of challenging projects, is the usual mix.
As we look at training’s place in today’s world, we see it’s a shadow of what it once was in defining leadership and developing talent. And here is why.
The 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development is a common formula based on studies of effective learning experiences. The model states that individuals get 70 percent of their learning from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal training or workshops. The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit educational institution in Greensboro, N.C. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers.
Although I highly agree that 70% of learning experiences happen on the job, it doesn’t mean throw new leaders into the deep end and see if they can “learn it on the job”. I think the 70 20 10 model illustrates the need for blended learning. Take 10% of your time and take a formal learning experience to learn the new process, skill, or behavior. Then through a mentor or manager (20 percent of learning), and 70 percent of learning on the job, it blends together for effective learning. By throwing them in the deep end without the 10 percent formal learning, does not result in effective learning.
As we continue to cut costs and streamline the business, management training programs are often what’s cut in budgets, because most executives believe it’s a priority for tomorrow, but outweighed by other of-the-moment priorities. And executives lie to themselves that their learners will learn 70 percent by just being on the job, and then they cut the training budgets eliminating leadership development programs.
Luckily, helping your employees develop is an investment much less costly than burnout and turnover. Time for executives to invest in the coaching and development of the next gen leader.