One of the biggest mistakes many organizations make is to cut back on management training and leadership development in a bad economy. These outfits cut the resources for these vital functions at the time when they are needed most.
A company needs trained managers and real leaders most when it is facing difficulties such as falling sales and dwindling resources. Yet many management teams chose not to devote money and resources to efforts to provide these individuals. In many cases, the resources and support for managers are cut even as their workload increases.
Management training programs combined with serious leadership development efforts can help an organization cope with the challenges posed by shrinking, low morale and falling sales. An example of how such efforts can help is generating new ideas.
There are many creative, intelligent and capable people working in every organization. Many of these people have the capability to manage and lead if they are given the tools. A leadership development effort can identity those people while management training can increase their capabilities.
Such efforts save the organization money because it does not have to hire new managers from outside. It also gives the best and most capable workers an incentive to stay with the organization and commit to it its future.
Developing a pool of managers with leadership potential is also a good way to build a foundation for the economic rebound. The companies that do this will have the resources available to hit the ground running and start expanding when the economy starts growing again. History shows us that economic booms usually follow economic downturns.
There will be many new opportunities appearing in the years ahead, new technologies, new industries and new markets will appear. Organizations need leaders that can recognize these opportunities and managers who can take advantage of them. Those that devote resources to management training will reap these rewards.
Quite a few organizations make the mistake of eliminating or cutting back on leadership development efforts when the economy gets bad. Leadership training programs are often the first thing to be eliminated and the last thing to be restored when the budget cuts start.
Cutting back on leadership development efforts during a bad economy is a terrible mistake. Organizations and companies need visionary leadership in a bad economy. Yet they refuse to pay for the tools needed to develop such leadership.
The challenges are greater than ever but the leaders needed to guide companies and agencies through the economic challenges may not be there. To make matters worse there could be little or no money to use to lure effective leaders in from the outside.
That means organizations will need to make due with their existing employee bases. It makes sense to give those employees the training and tools they need to become effective leaders. It also makes sense to have a cadre of trained leaders that are willing to step up and take command when the going gets tough.
Leadership development and leadership training are not luxuries. No company or organization can survive without leaders and leadership. So it makes sense for an organization to increase its investment in leadership development during a bad economy.
Such efforts will show employees that they are valued, and give the most creative and successful workers a reason to stay even if salary increases are not available. Workers who know that their loyalty and hard work could be rewarded with a leadership position are more likely to stay. Workers who think that leadership roles are reserved for outsiders will start sending out resumes.
Leadership development is vital to the survival of any organization and cannot be ignored even in today’s poor economy. Those organizations that spend money and resources developing new leaders will thrive and succeed in the years ahead. Those that do not will perish.
Leadership failure is epidemic, claimed Will Marré, leadership expert and the author of a new book, Save the World and Still Be Home For Dinner (Capitol Books, Sept. 2009), at the recent Excellence in Workplace Forum in San Diego. As evidence, he pointed to the successive failures of corporate leaders and the demise or bankruptcies of companies ranging from Enron to GM as well as the bailouts of our global financial system. In his remarks, however, Marré inspired senior executives and human resource leaders to be apart from these leadership failures by embracing a new leadership framework.
Marré proposed that leadership development has been dominated by business schools over the past forty years which has led to a “dumbing down” of leadership to a set of skills and attributes. He proposed that reducing leadership to abilities such as decisiveness, discipline, vision and inspiration fail to distinguish the critical difference between Hitler and Churchill or Stalin and Roosevelt. “The core problem,” stated Marré, “is that we’ve abandoned the first principle of leadership which answers the question, what am I trying to accomplish? If we are going to have a sustainable future leaders must have a noble intent, a purpose beyond self-interest.”
Leaders want to make a change in how they do business. A recent global survey by McKinsey and Company reveals that over 70 percent of global leaders say they need to improve their performance in solving social and environmental problems but are not sure what to do.
Research reported by Ashridge Business School reports that 76 percent of CEOs and senior executives believe that it is important that senior executives have the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to trends like climate change, resource scarcity and doing business in emerging markets marked by poverty, corruption and human rights violations. Alarmingly, however, only 8 percent believe that these knowledge and skills are currently being developed very effectively by either their own organizations or by business schools more broadly.
Marré has the answer for this leadership development dilemma, his new leadership framework he calls REALeadership. He stated, “If we are going to avoid the massive potholes in our future – resource depletion, environmental collapse, trade wars, massive unemployment, market disruptions and corporate extinction – we need leadership of a different kind, now.” Marré’s REALeadership framework creates a new, three-dimensional business model that “REALeaders” must take on in order to thrive in the coming decade. To find out more about REALeadership, visit Marré’s blog, CSR and the 4 Ideals of Socially Responsible Leadership.
Marré truly believes that REALeadership is the only leadership for a thriving future. In “The Future of Work: Engaging Employees to Drive Innovation” Marré discusses how leadership in the 21st century workplace based on creating a sustainable future drives employee engagement and innovation based on shared values where value is added to both the future and the bottom line. Furthermore, in his leadership development workshops, Marré shows organizations how a future of environmental sustainability, increased world health, and educational and economic opportunity create the greatest business opportunity in history.
About Will Marré: Will is an Emmy Award-winning writer, leadership speaker and coach. He is the co-founder and former president of the Covey Leadership Center (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and CEO of the REALeadership Alliance where he helps leaders identify, communicate and implement new socially strategic business models. Will has been a personal leadership coach and advisor to multi-billion dollar global companies such as Disney and Johnson & Johnson. For the past 10 years he has focused on making corporate social responsibility strategic. His book, Save the World and Still Be Home for Dinner will be released in fall 2009.