Is Leadership Development a Complete Waste of Time? by Paul Michelman

DeM Banter:  Interesting points… are we measuring the right things?

view original / Paul Michelman /

When only seven percent of all employees trust their leaders, can you blame Harvard’s Barbara Kellerman for calling the modern practice of leadership development a failure? She pulls few punches in this Strategy+Business excerpt from her book, “The End of Leadership.”

“For all the large sums of money invested in the leadership industry, and for all the large amounts of time spent on teaching leadership, learning leadership, and studying leadership… There is scant evidence… to confirm that this massive, expensive, thirty-plus-year effort has paid off. To the contrary: much more often than not, leadership development programs are evaluated according to only one, subjective measure: whether or not participants were satisfied with the experience. But, of course, even if they were, this does not prove the program had the impact it wanted or intended; in fact, the opposite might be true — it could be that the most satisfied participants were those who changed the least.”

Kellerman makes it a point to say she does not believe all leadership training programs are failures. Nevertheless, she writes, “as a whole the leadership industry is self-satisfied, self-perpetuating, and poorly policed.”

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