Saturday, October 9, 2010

“Leadership Development Programs” – Professor M.S.Rao

As you cannot hand over the keys of your car to a person who does not know driving, you cannot hand over the reins of your company to a person who is not equipped with leadership qualities and competencies. Therefore, we need to train and groom the people as leaders before handing over the reins. Leadership development is the mantra for the employees who have high potential to take on the corporate battles with confidence and mettle. Designing the right leadership development program (LDP) is the key to successful leadership development for desirable outcomes.

LDP Objectives

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers not the enrichment of the leaders.” - Robert Townsend

Objectives of any LDP are to work out and create a strategy to build leaders as per the organizational goals and objectives. It involves content preparation, training and grooming, feedback and finally keeping them ready to take the corporate battles and challenges. It must be in tune with talent management, leadership succession and leadership pipeline. The bottom line is to ensure seamless supply of leadership talent to avert any kind of organizational eventuality.

LDP Preparation

Before you conduct LDP, be clear about the content to be covered as per the profile of the audience. Find out the profile of the audience that includes their educational background, cultures, gender, ethnicities, levels of position as it helps you understand the create content to match their needs. In addition, find out the duration of the program as you need to cater the content within the duration without compromising the quality of delivery.

While designing the content, find out the relevant areas to be covered. Explore those areas for adding new information, knowledge, skills and abilities. If you give what others give, you get into the rat race. Therefore, look at the innovative ways to design the content to stand out from others to get noticed for valuable takeaways.

LDP Content Plan

The LDP must align with the vision and mission of the organization. It is the base from which the training process must start. In addition, find out whether the LDP is to fill the performance gap areas or for growth areas. The content preparation is different for filling the gap areas and for growth areas. If it is for gap areas find out the gaps and create the content adequately for filling those gap areas. If it is for growth areas find out the next level the people will go and prepare content in those areas so that they can acquire the same.

The ideal content plan for LDP covers below items:

• Personality development
• Communication
• Strategy
• Managing change
• Power presence
• Diversity
• Coaching
• Mentoring
• Business etiquette
• Ethics
• Kirkpatrick’s evaluation

In addition, LDP must focus on both soft and hard skills, the former emphasizing on behavioral aspects and the latter focusing on the domain competency. Blending both soft and hard skills helps in creating smart leaders. The duration of the program usually lasts for five days. The outlined plan is only a tentative one and must be tailored as per the profile of the audience, budget of the company, availability of time and other factors.

While delivering the content, it is essential to use different methods such as lecture, case study, role play, behavioral role modeling, and simulations. The first three methods of lecture, case study and role play are familiar to everybody. Therefore, it is essential to emphasize on behavioral role model and simulations to bring out behavioral changes as leadership deals mostly with behavior.

LDP Execution

"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." - Samuel Johnson

Be clear about the program and analyze the profile of audience. Find out what do the audiences expect and prepare the content accordingly. The success of any program depends on sharing what is essential to the audience rather than sharing what is one is comfortable with. Why do some training programs fail? The answer is simple as they deliver what they know but not what the audience wants.

Always present the benefits the audience gain during the presentation as it enhances their attention and respect to the trainer and the content. No one cares how big you are until they know how strong you are at your domain.

Create content that is relevant, unique and innovative. Don’t give what others give. Give something different and unique so that you can stand out. While preparing the content it is essential to cover it from three perspectives such as length, breadth and depth. While covering the content it is essential to present it at length such as covering the issue from multiple perspectives. In addition, address the content broadly with illustrations, case studies, activities, through experiential and blended learning. Finally, the content should not be superficial but must have depth of knowledge and information as it helps in minimizing the time during question and hour session.

Make use of innovative and varied instructional methods that attract the attention of the audience. Adopt these instructional methods as per the learning styles of the audience. Keep changing the instructional style as per the body language and the mood of the audience. Use film clippings, power point presentations, role plays and interactive methods as per the profile and mood of the audience.

As feedback is the breakfast of the champions, at the end provide feedback form to find out the takeaways from the participants. It clearly spells out the pulse of the people and helps you do better in the next program.

LDP and Action Learning

Action learning is learning by doing where people learn through their experiences thus improving their performance. It helps in relating the reel content with real life, enhances awareness, makes the learning process more disciplined and boosts the overall confidence of the participants. It is usually conducted in small groups where people do certain activities and tasks under the supervision of a facilitator who corrects and moderates the behavior of the participants. It is a behavioral aspect. It does not involve in mere sharing or acquiring of knowledge. It is an extension of traditional learning. In traditional classroom learning the participants learn only knowledge. However, in action learning the participants acquire skills and abilities to execute the task effectively and efficiently.

Professor Reginald Revans is the brainchild behind this concept who developed in UK in 1940s. It helps tremendously in leadership development where the participants are highly mature and experienced individuals who do not need spoon-feeding. It is the key component for leadership development programs.

Learning Leadership

"The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your successes - any fool can do that. The really important thing is to profit from your mistakes." - William Bolitho, from 'Twelve against the Gods'

Learning leadership involves both theoretical aspects and practical activities. You need to be equipped with the theoretical concepts so that you will be able to experiment in your real life environment. During the course of experimentation, you tend to make mistakes and learn a lot from your experience. However, the theoretical concepts that you learn from various sources will help you minimize mistakes thus enhancing your success rate as an effective leader.

People learn about leadership from multiple sources such as books, by observing leaders at the workplace or outside the workplace. You can also learn by reading good books. You can perfect your leadership skills by undergoing training programs wherein you involve in role plays and practical activities through blended and experiential learning. Above all, you need to get your hands dirty to excel as an effective leader. Therefore, learning the ropes of leadership is easier said than done.

Leadership is a trainable and transferable skill from one person to another. It is more of a behavioral skill that can be learned by experience and through proper training and grooming. There must be mentors who can share experiences time to time to walk the talk and to fine-tune the mentees. In addition, there must be coaches who can interact, question and grill to get best out of the coachees.

LDP in India

India’s ICICI Bank, Hindustan Unilever and Infosys have invested into LDPs and they are the top Indian companies to hit global headlines by investing into leadership development programs.

Indian companies prefer to train and groom the top leadership talent ready within their organizations rather than hiring from outside unlike the western countries. Indian companies have strong selection strategies to recruit and train the people as per their business needs.


“The ultimate challenge of leaders who are senior managers is to develop the next generation of leaders more capable than themselves.” – Dave Ulrich

The current financial crisis globally and the recent eruption of corporate scandals reflect that there is dearth of leadership talent and ethical leadership at the top. Therefore, there is need for emphasizing on ethics while developing leaders. Besides, research reports reveal that the turn over rate of CEOs is rising tremendously. Tenure span of CEOs is decreasing gradually. Therefore, there is an urgent need to conduct LDPs to groom leaders so as to ensure seamless supply of talented leaders to take on the corporate battles in 21st century.

Professor M.S.Rao
Founder and Chief Consultant,
MSR Leadership Consultant, India
Blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com
Where Knowledge is Wealth
Email: profmsr7@gmail.com


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