There is good research that explains why leadership development fails.
The Center for Effective Organizations cites power mindsets, the productization of leadership development and false metrics.
McKinsey says programs fail when they undervalue context, are not integrated with real work, underestimate existing mindsets and don’t measure results.
Who is the best person to help you become a better leader? (ShutterStock/Cherries)
What’s the alternative to spending $50 billion* a year on leadership development programs that often fail to deliver on their promises?
Earlier this year in a 3-part article, I described why leaders should develop other leaders. If you’re looking for leadership advice, this article describes exactly who to go to and why.
get advice from leaders who have relevant leadership experience
Seek out people who have been in similar leadership roles as you. Anyone can study leadership, anyone can set up a leadership coaching or consulting practice, and anyone can call themselves a leader. But, not everyone has actual leadership experience.
Seek out someone who has been through the challenges that you are facing. Experience truly is the best teacher.
get advice from leaders who value advice from other leaders
Experience alone is not enough. Great leaders seek advice from other leaders. They may get that advice from books and other media, or from their own, experienced leadership coach.
Beware of leaders who think they don’t need to keep learning about leadership or believe they know all they need to know.
get advice from leaders who have failed
If experience is the best teacher, then failures are the best lessons. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Success often means avoiding the failures of others.
Leaders who deny failure have either had really easy jobs or are so self-absorbed that they can’t see the damage they are causing. Good leaders want you to be a great leader and not repeat their past mistakes.
3 questions to ask your leadership advisor, coach or mentor
- Can you please describe your previous and current leadership experience? I’d like to know the name of the organizations, the details of your roles and number of direct reports.
- What are you doing now, or have done in the past, to improve your own leadership knowledge and skills?
- Can you tell me about your leadership mistakes and what you learned from them?
ideal leadership advisor
The ideal leadership advisor is often someone who already leads other people, is always learning how to be a better leader, and can help you learn from their failures as well as their successes.
* Fulmer, R.M. &, Goldsmith, M. (2000). The leadership investment: How the world’s best organizations gain strategic advantage through leadership development. New York, NY: AMACOM.