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For Leadership, Learning & Talent Executives

Part 5: Real-World Results – How to Ensure Your Programs Change Leadership Behavior

All right. So, welcome to the fifth and final part of this series, How to ensure your programs produce lasting changes in leadership behavior and business impact. And we’ve covered a lot of ground over the last five videos. In the first video, we talked about the pushback that many of you get on the time your leadership programs take, and how caving into that pressure can actually be a big trap. And why do I say that? Because reducing time on your leadership programs doesn’t address what the core problem usually is, the perceived or actual value that your programs are delivering to the organization and the people going through them. I also warned that caving into this pressure can actually hurt your credibility because of the implicit message you might be sending to your stakeholders, that your programs weren’t valuable enough in the first place to justify the time invested in them.

More often than not, the better response is to increase the value of your programs and to demonstrate their indisputable impact on the business. We also discussed how the tried and true approaches to developing leaders aren’t delivering the value organizations need and increasingly demand. And the research is clear on this point. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent every year globally on leadership development, the impact on leadership effectiveness and organizational performance is scant at best. And why is this? Well, I think Michael Beer, renowned change guru and Harvard professor, put it best when he pointed out that most leaders revert back to their old behaviors soon after most programs.

And I actually find this deeply disturbing, because at no other time in human history has our ability to survive and thrive depended so much on the effective exercise of leadership. And this is why I believe all of us need to step up in the field, leadership training buyers and providers alike, so that our companies, communities, and countries can get the leadership that all of us need. And for those of you who are resonating with what I’m saying and feel compelled to answer this call, I believe that my real work process can be of real help to you, regardless of the leadership behaviors you’re trying to cultivate or the providers that you’re partnering with.

And why is that? Because I’ve personally spent nearly three decades honing this methodology that dozens of companies all over the world have used to improve the effectiveness of their leaders and the performance of their organizations. So, today, I’m going to share the fifth and final step of the real work process, real world results. But first, let’s do a quick review of steps one through four. Step one is real world problem selection. This step is really going to help your leaders to prioritize their own development, because you’re going to have them select, bring, and work on during your programs, tough business impacting challenges that they, their managers, and the larger business care about. And doing this is going to make your leadership programs immediately relevant and valuable out of the gate.

Step two is real world behavioral data collection. And it’s in this step that you’re going to collect data on how your leaders actually behave under real life pressure, not how they think they behave. And this step is absolutely vital, because if we don’t give your leaders and ourselves a clinically clear and accurate picture of how they behave in real life, it’s going to be impossible for them or us to figure out what most needs to change in the next step.

Step three is realization. And this is where you’re going to help your leaders figure out what most needs to change about how they lead, where their gaps and opportunities are, along with the downsides of those gaps and the upsides of those opportunities. And it’s really important that your leaders have these realizations early during your programs, both for learning motivation, but also because the research demonstrates that most leaders aren’t sufficiently self-aware to benefit from being developed.

And the fourth step is reinvention. And it’s finally in this step where you’re going to get to help your leaders unlearn old patterns and begin developing new ways of thinking and behaving that are much better aligned with proven practices, their higher values, and the organization’s expectations. All right. So, now let’s dive into step five, real world results. So, the first four stages of our process actually don’t take that long, usually about a two day workshop to complete. And despite the short timeframe, the results are pretty impressive, about a 15% sustainable improvement in leadership effectiveness on average. But if you truly care about helping leaders master new behaviors and regularly apply them to solve real business problems, you’re going to need a few pull through levers that you can implement after the two days. And the most effective levers that we have seen are breakthrough action plans or BAPs. Number two, workouts that are led by master coaches and the sharing of success stories.

These can actually take a few different forms, but let me share with you how our clients typically use them. Pull through lever number one, break through action plans or BAPs. Two of the most interesting things that happen for leaders when they go through our real work process are, they’re much more motivated to tackle things they would’ve otherwise avoided. And they recognize many more opportunities to make a difference both inside and outside of work. And we help them capitalize on this new found sense of optimism and possibility by doing three things. One, having them commit to tackle up to five new business challenges within 60 days of the program, capturing these commitments in a breakthrough action plan, and then asking both their managers and their peers to hold them accountable for following through on their BAPs.

So, let’s say you’ve got a group of 40 leaders going through one of your programs together. Implementation of these BAPs is going to generate solutions to up to 200 performance problems and opportunities in your organization within 60 days. And even if only half of these solutions are implemented effectively, that’s a lot. But honestly, this is only scratching the surface because the BAPs are only going to generate quick wins to guarantee the long lasting impact of your programs. Your leaders are going to have to master new behaviors and regularly apply what they’ve learned to solve real business problems. And this is where the next two levers come in.

Pull through lever number two, workouts led by master coaches. In a nutshell, workouts are short, small group problem solving and continuous learning sessions that your leaders will attend on a monthly basis after their two day workshop. And these sessions are generally run by their peers or their managers, whom we’ve trained up as real work process master coaches, or as our clients call them, MCs. And just like during the two day workshop, your leaders are going to select, bring, and work on tough business impacting challenges that are just beyond the reach of their current leadership capabilities to solve. And during these realistic role plays, everyone’s going to get in the moment coaching from their master coach, taking everyone’s leadership capabilities to the next level.

So, if you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty passionate about these MC-led workouts, and one of the biggest reasons is because it makes our clients less dependent on us and other external consultants. And when these workouts get embedded into our client’s regular working rhythm, it supplies them with a reliable and reusable mechanism to not only continue developing their leaders, but to ensure that tough real world business problems get solved. And last but not least, pull through lever number three, the sharing of success stories. Taken together, the BAPs and the MC-led workouts, are going to generate tons of behavioral and business breakthroughs for every leader going through one of your programs.

So, the next step is to capture and share these stories, because they’re a fabulous source of inspiration and learning for other leaders going through your programs and leaders across your organization. And showcasing these stories to your stakeholders is a great way to indisputably demonstrate the value and impact of your programs. Okay, so that concludes our video series. And whether you’re a leadership training buyer or provider, I believe that your work is supremely important, because our world is simply starved for better leadership from both the powerful and the privileged and from all people, regardless of their level in the hierarchy and their place in society. The stakes have simply never been higher. So, I hope that this series has both inspired you to make your programs better and provided a path forward for how you might do that, so that we finally get the leadership that we need and our companies, communities, and our countries.

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