The Point: Ever wonder why you’re not being developed as a leader in your organization? After all, we’ve probably all heard the corporate “urban myth” of the modern organization that grew from startup to legitimate industry contender (Think Apple, Facebook, or any tech company that’s publicly traded). These organizations are typically replete with employee perks (coffee barista’s onsite, ping pong tables, nap pods, etc.) And the coup de tat is that they not only recognize leadership talent, but reward it by sending them off to leadership development training. In this post, I’ll take a look at why your Human Resources department isn’t developing you as a leader. I know you’ll be as surprised as I am (but then again, maybe not so much!)… Enjoy!
You’re a High Potential Employee, Right?
I’ve spent a lot of time on leadership development engagements in an attempt to put together a high potential team of what you could consider “up and comers” for organizations. Some organizations look at this identification process for high potentials with scientific rigor, complete with key performance indicators, data collection methodology, and elected cross-functional boards to sift through/select final candidates. Others, typically leave it up to the Human Resources (HR) department. After all, the logic goes, who knows our people better than Human Resources? They did bring them into the organization!
So if Human Resources is selecting your organization’s future leaders, what could go wrong? Korn Ferry, the self-described “preeminent authority on leadership and talent” released a global executive survey that found gaps (significant gaps) in leadership development opportunities for Human Resources professionals (I’d have you CLICK HERE to see the study, but they don’t have it on their website as of this writing – They do however link you to their “Aligning Business and Human Capital Strategy” advertisement).
I’m in HR, Therefore We Develop Others (But Not Ourselves!)
The Korn Ferry survey of some 700+ executives (functional expertise omitted) finds nearly half (47%) work at companies that don’t offer leadership development for Human Resources staff. That’s quite the leadership challenge! Of the 53% that do offer leadership development for HR, two-thirds (66%) say the development isn’t as “rigorous” as is needed/should be when compared with leadership programs outside the HR function. In other words, if you’re in IT you can look forward to one great leadership development program. However, if you’re in HR the program will not hold similar qualities.
On top of it all, respondents said that Senior HR talent doesn’t receive relevant developmental opportunities critical to perform optimally (58% say so). So if leadership development is a crucial cornerstone to organization performance (Read that as you’d better have a succession plan), then why is there so little development taking place within the HR function? After all, isn’t this where the majority of talent development initiatives stem from?
The Leadership Challenge: Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today
I’ll be the first to recognize that developing leaders is a tall order for any organization. It is an especially tall order for those organizations where HR does not share a seat at the C-Suite Table. When I read these results I happened to be having a conversation with one of the leaders that I work with. In reviewing this with them, it came as little/no surprise at all. Her direct quote was “What about this surprises you? Most organizations deem Human Resources to be a worthless function.” Scandalous!
I think the aspect of this study that concerns me the most is that this is perhaps just the “tip” of the leadership development ice-berg. I’ve worked with Korn Ferry before, and find the quality of their work second to none (except my team’s!) What concerns me is the study was conducted with executives from their database, a database that no doubt is loaded with HR Leadership.
So if a study is conducted on HR Leadership Development with HR Leadership, how many actually called their own organizations “out” on not developing leaders in the HR function? My guess is that the majority hedged-their responses with a positive bias. Even if the minority answered the survey accurately (full truth disclosure), the results are mind-boggling.
In this post, we’ve taken a look at leadership development within the Human Resources function, and why it is that you may not be receiving such development opportunities as a result. Unfortunately, the news as reported through a Korn Ferry survey is not good! So what should be Human Resources response to developing tomorrow’s leaders today, within their own function? Nothing less of best in class leadership development of course!
PS – You may also enjoy some of the other recent posts I wrote:
- The Leadership Challenge: Helping Those That Don’t Want Help
- The Leadership Challenge: Saying “Thank You”
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Mindful?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Better Off Lucky Than Good?
- The Leadership Challenge: Can You Drive the Development of Leaders Who Transform Your Business?
- What’s Inside Your Leadership Time Capsule?
- The Leadership Challenge: 10 Characteristics to Develop Your Executive Presence
- The Leadership Challenge: Happy New Year! Now What?
- Leadership Amnesia: Should You Forget the Past to Move Forward to a Better Future?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are Your SMART Goals DUMB?
- The Leadership Challenge: Are You Climbing the Leadership Mountain?
- The Leadership Challenge: They Want You To Fail! 8 Leadership Tips to Overcome Failure
- The Leadership Challenge: Do You Exercise Your Moral Muscle?
- The Leadership Challenge: Conducting Post-Mortem Reviews
Sam Palazzolo is the Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, and Communication Skills Training for Leaders.