Building on the last post, I think it's important to address one other problem with leadership development programs. In many firms, high potentials and mid-level executives attend leadership development programs, receive 360 degree feedback, work with mentors, and receive coaching. Companies invest a great deal at times to groom these mid-level executives for more senior positions. However, they do not make a similar investment in members of the top management team.
What's the problem with that approach? First, it presumes that people do not need further learning and development once they reach the top level of the organization. It suggests that they "know it all" at that point. In fact, members of the top team often can use a break from their day-to-day work to think about broader strategic and leadership issues. Investing in their development may not only improve their skills and capabilities, but it may help shake the conventional wisdom and groupthink that can emerge from an intact and cohesive team that has worked together for a long time in a particular company.
Second, mid-level executives receive the wrong message. They see top executives as not "walking the talk" regarding leadership development. Somehow, what's good for the troops is not good for the top team. That can't be the right message to send to future leaders of the organization.