- Senior leaders often receive most of their leadership training during the final chapters of their careers, when they have the most experience. Organizations also go to great lengths to conduct annual performance and talent reviews to identify high-performers and high-potentials (HiPos) and offer them ample development. In both scenarios, the individuals who receive the most development are also the ones who arguably need it the least. We call this the leadership development paradox.
- Ultimately, ensuring that the leadership development paradox doesn’t happen is critical, as the success of organizations depends as much on the “averagely talented” as the talented few. Amid this war for talent that currently has no geographical limitations and is showing no signs of stopping, investing in the “rest” ensures you have a strong bench and protects you from flight risk in the Great Resignation.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lessons learned, HBR
Golden Knowledge (GK) juice
- The business case for investing in the “best” given limited organizational resources appears straightforward: Individuals who have a demonstrated track record of success deserve to be recognized, right? They also seem like sure bets who will benefit the most from development opportunities because they have the requisite experience and capabilities to grow.
- A by-product of the leadership development paradox is that the “rest” are typically excluded from those opportunities, creating disparities and perceived inequities within organizations. A longstanding finding of health and policy research is that unequal societies with large gaps between the haves and have-nots have a poorer quality of life. Likewise, organizations with larger gaps between those who do and do not receive development can also be susceptible to organizational disparity.
- Additionally, this strategy can violate employees’ expectations. Workers generally believe that organizations have an obligation to provide employees with opportunities for development over the span of their tenure. Failing to fulfill these expectations can ultimately lead to negative consequences, such as poorer work performance, decreased commitment to the organization, and greater intentions to quit.
- CONTEXT: The Golden Knowledge Path ("GKPath") digital highway
- Opportunity, Discovering and exploiting the treasure of the digital age
- "genioux facts", the online programme on MASTERING “THE BIG PICTURE OF THE DIGITAL AGE”, builds The Golden Knowledge Path (GKPath) digital highway to discovering and exploiting the treasure of the digital age, accelerating everyone's success in the digital age. g-f(2)254, g-f(2)260, g-f(2)261, g-f(2)251, g-f(2)312, g-f(2)256, g-f(2)257, g-f(2)272, g-f(2)271, g-f(2)270, g-f(2)268, g-f(2)269, g-f(2)289, g-f(2)283, g-f(2)287, g-f(2)313, g-f(2)293, g-f(2)294, g-f(2)296, g-f(2)298
- The inverted mini pyramid of knowledge, g-f(256), is essential to travel on the "GKPath" highway.
- g-f(2)256 The Big Picture of the Digital Age (5/2/2021), geniouxfacts, The fundamental knowledge mini-pyramid for traveling on the "GKPath" highway.
- Key "genioux facts" to travel on the "GKPath" highway.
- g-f(2)261 The Big Picture of the Digital Age (5/5/2021), geniouxfacts, You are unique. Grow without limits in the digital age.
- g-f(2)257 The Big Picture of the Digital Age (5/3/2021), geniouxfacts, At any moment you take the fastest path (GKPath) to your greatness.
- g-f(2)254 The Big Picture of the Digital Age (5/1/2021), geniouxfacts, The Golden Knowledge Path (GKPath) to accelerate everyone's success.
- g-f(2)260 The Big Picture of the Digital Age (5/4/2021), geniouxfacts, Alerts, Warnings and Relevant Lessons Learned Traveling at High Speed on GKPath.
Learned lessons, HBR
Golden Knowledge (GK) juice
- Here are three common but potentially problematic assumptions that underlie the leadership development paradox and strategies for leaders to overcome those blind spots.
- Assumption #1: Success Is the Result of Individual Effort.
- People tend to believe that individual effort and hard work leads to success.
- All employees enter organizations with their unique combination of capabilities and experiences, some of which may not be under their direct control, that contribute to differing performance and productivity levels. Over time, high-performing individuals accumulate an advantage: They’re more likely to be invited to leadership development programs, flagged as HiPos, and promoted to more senior and high-exposure roles.
- One way to address this is to offer training support for all employees with flexible performance criteria for eligibility. Consider global software company Adobe’s Learning Fund: In support of continuing education and professional development, all “employees who are in good performance standing” are eligible for an annual reimbursement up to $10,000 USD for academic degrees and other certifications and $1,000 USD for short-term learning opportunities. Although employee performance is still the focal point of decision making, Adobe’s Learning Fund does not disproportionately favor the highest performers.
- Assumption #2: Past Performance Predicts Future Performance
- A fundamental tenet of psychology is that our past behavior predicts future behavior. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that organizations reward current high performers with further development opportunities, with the assumption that these individuals will continue to perform well in the future.
- More broadly, organizations need to have robust assessment practices in place to ensure they’re investing in the right people for development, such as scientifically valid and reliable instruments, an understanding of the organizational and business context, and qualified professionals to interpret assessment results. Although these recommendations are not new, evidence indicates many organizations currently fall short. In a benchmark study that examined 84 companies, only about one in four were using assessment methods to identify HiPos.
- Assumption #3: Motivated Employees Benefit Most from Development
- When organizations send employees to leadership development programs, their ultimate aim is to have them perform better than before.
- We found that the individuals with the greatest “developmental need” — those who are generally less motivated to learn or intrinsically interested in leading — experienced over twice as much growth in their leadership confidence than those who were most “developmentally ready.” By the end of training, the gap in leadership confidence between these two groups reduced by 35%. So, those who seemingly did not possess the motivation to learn or lead did in actuality benefit from investments in leadership development, and when considered in absolute terms, actually benefited the most from this experience.
- One method for leaders to overcome this blind spot is to select employees one for one into development programs — in other words, for every single developmentally ready employee who’s chosen for a development program, include an employee with developmental need. This ensures that the leadership competency gap between these two sets of individuals does not grow and contributes to curbing organizational disparity. Although the specific programs may not be the same for these two groups, as their developmental goals may differ, they both still receive development, which ensures organizations have a stronger bench of talent.
Some relevant characteristics of this "genioux fact"
- Category 2: The Big Picture of the Digital Age
- [genioux fact deduced or extracted from HBR]
- This is a “genioux fact fast solution.”
- Tag Opportunities those travelling at high speed on GKPath
- Type of essential knowledge of this “genioux fact”: Essential Analyzed Knowledge (EAK).
- Type of validity of the "genioux fact".
- Inherited from sources + Supported by the knowledge of one or more experts.
- Authors of the genioux fact
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
PhD with awarded honors in computer science in France
Fernando is the director of "genioux facts". He is the entrepreneur, researcher and professor who has a disruptive proposal in The Digital Age to improve the world and reduce poverty + ignorance + violence. A critical piece of the solution puzzle is "genioux facts". The Innovation Value of "genioux facts" is exceptional for individuals, companies and any kind of organization.
Key “genioux facts”
- Some relevant and recent "genioux facts" from the g-f golden knowledge pyramid to master the big picture of the digital age.
- Opportunities updates (1/21/2022) for those traveling at high speed on GKPath!
- Tag Alerts those traveling at high speed on GKPath
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