The $15 Billion Leadership Mistake

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

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
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.


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