Developing Leadership Competencies: Expense or Investment?
You’ve probably heard and read about the importance of organizational culture in determining the success of the enterprise. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and similar declarations have been prevalent in business journals (here’s a hint; it takes both!). While building a strong, positive operating culture is valued, many of the business owners and executives I speak with express questions and even frustration with just how to do this.
While this subject requires more discussion than this space will allow, there is one sure-fire way to strengthen culture while building needed and valuable competencies within your organization. That is the systematic and purposeful investment in leadership development for your key people.
I frequently hear expressions of concern from business owners about the rate and pace of supervisory, managerial and leadership skill development in otherwise promising team members. Similarly, disappointment in the level of basic business acumen (in particular, financial knowledge) is often mentioned.
What to do?
When I ask about their employee development processes, I get some interesting (and disappointing) responses. They run along the lines of waiting for improvement in business conditions so they can “budget” for this. But when I ask how this was handled in better times, I find it’s pretty much the same thing. There seems to be a commonly held idea that these skills will be learned on the job through hands-on experience. While there is certainly some truth to this, the fact remains that leading companies pride them selves in being “learning organizations” where high potential employees are developed as part of a plan and yes, a budget.
Investing in these key skills pays big dividends in so many ways. The learning that takes place in a structured, focused environment prepares not only the individual employee, but other department staff as best practices and insights are shared internally. This sends a strong, positive message company-wide and often provides incentive for other team members to seek out ways to learn and improve.
While there is a “cost” to professional employee development, the question is whether this is viewed as an expense or an investment. The return the organization enjoys is sometimes (but not always) subtle but no less significant. Just imagine what would happen if your organization had a formal plan for developing high potential team members? Their level of understanding and proficiency will likely be returned in the form of improved performance and a higher level of contribution to organizational success.
And research shows that employee development leads to higher levels or engagement and retention.
“What if we develop our employees and they leave?” “What if we don’t and they stay?”
So, whether it’s online webinars, LinkedIn learning, or more comprehensive programs like the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute (gcleadershipinstitute.com) continuous learning is an idea whose time has come.
In planning and budgeting for 2021, set aside time to consider how employee development can bring enhanced returns to your organization. To find out more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.