The next generation of thinking about leadership is about the leadership system. Great leaders develop great systems. According to a 2014 Forbes article “A 2012 study found that American companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development training”. Yet there is little evidence it makes any difference. Others are more blunt. Barbara Kellerman is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School points out that globally we spend $50 Billion but there is no evidence it has improved the human condition. She even takes on her own university and the belief that leadership can be taught. As the Forbes article points, with the retention rate of academic training at less than 50% after just two weeks, one must wondering why make the investment at all?
The gap that we see is we spend billions on developing individual leaders but send them back to systems of leadership that inhabit and prohibit the exercise of all that learning. For example, a few weeks ago I was listening to a colleague talk about a meeting at a global software company. His team was behind on a deliverable. The team leader, took no responsibility, but instead through everybody on her team “under the bus”.
We can be sure, that any sane person having read any of the 193,133 titles on leadership listed by amazon would have learned that a good leader takes responsibility for the failure of her team but gives the credit to the team for their success. Yet every day in millions of conference rooms, leaders routinely blame their staff for their own failures – without consequence.
Our solution is to develop leadership systems so that the system does not allow for a leader blaming her team for her failures. Leadership systems can be designed. By following basic systems theory and applying it to leadership, a leadership system can be designed, monitored and measured to achieve innovative and high level performance.
For a complimentary white paper on leadership system development, please click here.
Leadership – Its a System Not a Person