Why current leadership programs create more Euphoria than Leaders

Globally, leadership development receives prime focus and priority. We need leaders in every sphere of activities, business or profession. But, we always face dearth of true leaders. Innumerable professional companies around the world have developed leadership training and development programs. Many Corporates have done a good job to develop their in-house programs. Some have as many as 10 to 12 leadership training or course for every potential employee.

How effective these programs are?

What current leadership programs do?

Based upon extensive study and observations, as also my own participation, the contents of current leadership programs, by and large, can be summarized as:

  1. Define leadership.
  2. Highlight importance of leadership.
  3. Illustrations by case studies and examples.
  4. Use some form of model/s to evaluate your leadership trait or style.
  5. What you are, as a leader?
    Analysis of your strengths and weaknesses
  6. What you should be?
  7. What you should do to be an effective leader? (not all; but some programs)
  8. Company’s financial performance and management processes, in case of in-house programs.

General feedback from participants of programs

Over last several years, I have received feedback from hundreds of participants, which is cataloged in brief:

  1. Participants feel excited to attend such programs, on the premise that they are either being perceived as leaders or have prospects to become.
  2. Since they are hand-picked for programs; so there is hype.
  3. Generally, they like the course contents.
  4. Results of models or methods used to evaluate “what are their leadership traits or qualities” are often at variance with participants’ own beliefs.
    Many times, these models declare those as leaders, who are actually not, simply because they were able to answer various questions correctly!
  5. Invariably, at the end of program, there is Euphoria among participants.
  6. But, most participating people are unable to fathom what they need to do next, how to proceed further and graduate to leadership!
  7. Within few weeks, they realize that the course has created additional information for them; but no inspiration to change.
  8. It has been often seen that some people are already leadership material, in any case. Such programs do a good job for them; give a further direction and ideas to hone their leadership skills.
    However, majority of people or employees are beginners, they require seeds of leadership to be sown now, need guidance and grooming. This is where, most of current programs fail.

Where Leaders and Leadership programs go wrong

So, what are the real issues or gaps?

  1. Most leaders or coaches delivering such programs, focus only on –
    “What you are and what you should be?”
  2. Mainly, the programs aim at-
    1. Elaborating examples; but do not explain how to evolve and excel.
    2. Showing models; but not suggesting methods to get there.
    3. Creating images (of leadership instances); but not imagination and inspiration to change.
  3. Majority of such initiatives do not focus on-
    “How one could cultivate leadership traits or qualities or styles?”
  4. Many coaches tend to conclude that-
    1. Traits of an individual cannot be changed; one has to live with those!
    2. We can take horse to a well; but can’t make him to drink water.

What we need to do?

  • Pave the way for paradigm shift.
  • Rip and restructure current leadership programs/initiatives.
  • Embark on coaching how leadership traits or style are formed and formatted.
    It is Individual’s Ideas –>Behavior –> Trait or Style
  • Leadership is not contingent on 1 or 2 qualities/skills; but a set of those. All of those need to be identified, included and inculcated (in the new program).
  • After SWOT analysis, each individual would need customized prescription what he/she needs to do to bring a change and get there.
  • Curtail leadership programs to few; focus and follow.
  • Make these few as primary programs, follow each of these up with secondary programs to revisit how much primary one has made a difference and brought improvements.
    In case of unsatisfactory progress, change individual’s prescription, as needed.
  • Drop the notion that it is enough to bring Horse to a well; you need to make him conscious of the need to drink water to Survive, Succeed and Shine!

You can then expect a new and nice Breed of Leaders


12 responses to “Why current leadership programs create more Euphoria than Leaders”

  1. Mukesh Hatwalne Avatar
    Mukesh Hatwalne

    Very true ! I see leadership development as a process requiring customised & specialist approach and varies from person to person. A leader encompasses various traits and no two individuals are same but at the same time both can become successful leaders so it important to harness and groom the traits the individual has natural flair towards so he/she can become a successful leader.

    1. murli Avatar

      Thanks! I appreciate your thoughtful comments. It is correct that each individual does need customized prescription, apart from standard treatment, as mentioned in the post. Some traits may require a change or transformation.

  2. Gareld Butler Avatar
    Gareld Butler

    Excellent points. Many of these leadership courses focus on a particular image of a leader. In nearly all cases there is no one trait that distinguishes a leader from a non-leader but rather a collection of traits that complement each other. This collection varies with the leader, the group being led, and the organization within which the leadership is done. Knowing how to make your combination of traits and skills fit the needs of the position is what is needed, not a pep talk about what a great leader you are.

    1. murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your well orchestrated comments! These also reflect your good understanding of leadership requirements.

  3. Vikram Patil Avatar
    Vikram Patil

    Totally agree with Gerard’s comments. Murli sir, waiting for leadership program of your paradigm.

    1. murli Avatar

      Thanks a lot for your comments! I appreciate your wait and like. Do you see that it is coming at this point of time in different form? My each post on CYI site is aimed at helping my colleagues like you to understand various facets of leadership and life, both of which actually go hand in hand. At one stage, I guess the said leadership program would also come…

  4. Abhay Avatar

    Realistic view of what we see around today. Good solutions as well. I think I know lot of this by having oppurtunity to work under you guidance.

    That horse still rules -:)

    1. murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your comments and feedback! I appreciate the knowledge you have built for yourself.

      Valid rules are those, which always prevail!!

  5. Rudra Avatar

    One of those posts worth saving in the Personal Folder… 🙂 You certainly have got a very enriched knowledge and experience about the Leadership Programs happening everywhere and as you correctly mentioned, its important what and how (much) the participants take or carry along with them from such programs.

    Not everybody is lucky enough to go through these kind of programs and sometimes “Mentors”, but those who are, shouldn’t let it go…

    I certainly won’t!! 😉


    1. murli Avatar

      I feel very thankful for your comments and kind words!

  6. Kaushik Avatar

    The article is so realistic and speaks about the real state of affairs in our corporates. However with a little imagination and will power on part of the top management, proper talent can be spotted from the actual work situation and then groomed with those development programs. Also mentors like yourself could be requested to visit and lecture in such programs so that the youngsters could take a leaf out of your rich experiences.

    1. murli Avatar

      You have put down very relevant and well thought comments! I am sure that guests to this post would benefit from your comments. Many thanks!

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