Decades of research shows that many leadership development programs have little impact on creating lasting behavior change. Sometimes called “spray and pray” or “sheep dipping,” many efforts provide one-off learning or development events in the hope that something will stick. With weak follow through and little connection to daily work life it rarely does.
Decades of research also shows that 70% of organizational change efforts fail. And the “snicker factor” soars as leaders rollout another branding exercise or change mantra. Too often culture or organization change isn’t connected to the behaviors needed at all levels to lead and sustain the change.
We’ve found this simple formula is key to lasting and effective leadership and organization development; B = P x C. That is, Behavior is a factor of Personal development multiplied by the organization’s Culture. Anchored around 3 or 4 core values, behaviors must be clearly defined and described. These are usually driven throughout the entire organization in a series of hands-on exercises with middle and senior leaders actively involved. Everyone is given extensive skill development. The most effective approaches are built around leadership competencies and strengths-based feedback assessments supported by strong coaching.
The development of “soft skills” won’t last unless they’re intertwined with “hard” processes and systems. So Key Performance Indicators, performance management systems, production or customer services processes, financial, HR, IT, and other systems must support the organization/culture change. Too often, for example, values like trust, communication, teamwork, or customer focus are loudly proclaimed. But processes are too local and disconnected leading to departmental silos or walls between groups. Or critical HR systems look for gaps/weaknesses to fix, financial systems or policies are designed for “snoopervision,” and IT systems force procedures or provide tools that don’t fit internal and external customer needs.
In last week’s Leading a Peak Performance Culture webcast I explained The Clemmer Group’s “reason for being” in our logo: Strong People. Stronger Organizations. This comes from a deep-seated experience and long-held belief that this is an interdependent cycle that creates a flywheel effect. Stronger people create stronger organizations and stronger organizations create stronger people. We need to do both together for sustained and extraordinary performance.