1. What characteristics distinguish the best leadership development programs with the least effective ones?
In my view, there are three characteristics that contribute to effective leadership development programs: commitment, alignment and accountability.
Active support from all levels of management, starting with the senior most in the organization, creates meaningful and impactful leadership development programs. Without this support, programs simply become window dressing and yield little positive outcomes.
The knowledge and competencies taught in the program are directly linked to what’s needed to execute organizational vision, strategies and goals. Company successes and/or failures (ideally both) are used as working examples, projects, etc.
. Real leadership development is so much than hours of training. Observable and measurable metrics that demonstrate a learning transfer from coursework to practical application are essential. And, keep those metrics simple! I love how Marshall Goldsmith says it, “If leadership development is not enough of a priority for the company to establish goals and track progress against those goals, it will be difficult to make any succession planning process work.”
2. What are 2-3 factors that are most likely to derail a high potential employee’s career development/progression?
Based on my 20 years of working with senior and high potential leadership, I’ve seen three common career derailers:
Lack of emotional intelligence. Having a strong sense of self-awareness as well as the ability to comprehend one’s impact on others are fundamentals for moving into positions of greater responsibility.
Thinking too much about me and too little about we. Ego-centric individuals have a tough time navigating the work environment as they quickly get labeled “I win, you lose.” Others are reluctant to assist, believing (usually correctly) that they won’t get any credit for positive outcomes and all the blame for negative ones.
Incapable of making the strategic transition from transactional to conceptual. Delegation and collaboration play greater roles as one moves up the career ladder. An individual focused on doing it all themselves is doomed to failure.