Thursday, June 21, 2018

The $15 Billion Leadership Mistake

Guest post by Ken Pasch:

Roughly $15 billion is spent every year on training leaders in the U.S. Are those paying the bills getting their money’s worth? A number of C-suite executives have begun to wonder.
To get more out of training employees—and to keep it from being a serious financial mistake—executives need to change the focus from “training” to “development.” Training is a great tool that helps people deal with objective decisions. For example, let’s say you have a friend who’s a skilled mechanic. He’s been trained and has the experience to diagnose and resolve mechanical issues on just about any vehicle.

But a mechanic, though skilled, probably isn’t trained to lead other mechanics in the shop or to oversee a garage’s crew. There are stark differences and required skill sets when you’re tasked with leading people. To start, leadership decisions are much more subjective because there are few absolutes. There may be some standards to rely on (such as, don’t mess with people’s money, honey, or family) but people are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike. Leaders must adjust their leadership styles accordingly.
Recent surveys show that lack of development in this area has been devastating. According to one survey, only 21 percent of employees feel motivated to do outstanding work. Another survey reveals that 85 percent of employees aren’t engaged, or are actively disengaged. These unhappy employees have cost organizations nearly $7 trillion dollars in lost productivity. So there’s a bit of room for improvement here, wouldn’t you agree?

To be effective, leader development must be a process, not an event. Yet most programs for leaders are geared to fit within the standard one- to three-day conference. There must be a commitment to ongoing development if we are to make a serious dent in helping good people become great leaders who unlock, engage, and optimize the potential in their respective organizations.
We must also recognize that leader development cannot be one-size-fits-all. Think of the situations the CEO of Johnson and Johnson deals with compared to those of a young leader right out of college. How should leader development address varying levels of experience? I’ve found the solution is to stack development into three levels: from Emerging Leaders, to Leaders with History, and, finally, to Leaders of Leaders. 

These leaders all need tools that will work from the most basic to advanced levels. One of these tools is the Make Your M.A.R.K.! CycleTM. The cycle begins by adopting a mindset that ensures you’re always aware of how you impact others. You’ll become more mindful of your decisions and of the needs of those around you. The cycle continues with taking actions that unleash potential in those you lead, which will help you achieve great results. And the cycle completes as you become what I call a knowledge leader—a person who passes on hard-earned lessons as they mentor others, so the cycle can repeat and knowledge is continually passed on.
Developing leaders in this way—into people who lead and positively impact others—will benefit your organization, its staff, and everyone within a leader’s reach, which is surely worth every one of those 15 billion dollars.
Ken Pasch brings over 30 years’ experience in revolutionizing leader development within a broad range of organizations, including the U.S. Military, Johnson & Johnson, the American
College of Healthcare Executives, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. He is the founder of KiVisions, Inc., which advises good people on how to become great leaders, and serves as faculty in executive education at the Smeal College of Business at
Penn State University. Pasch is a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, where he served proudly and with distinction. His new book is On Course: Become a Great Leader and Soar. Learn more at

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