Why does leadership development program fail?

Companies are trying hard to develop internal leaders but they are finding it hard. After asking internal managers to follow rules for many years, they suddenly expect them to behave like leaders. A leader has to search out to explore new boundaries which an internal candidate may not do.

My company recently injected fresh blood at middle level. For first few months, they got VIP treatment. CEO was having dinner with them frequently. Now, Management’s view is fading away. Especially in Indian family owned business, head of business loves his 50+ friends / loyalist at top level. Injecting 30 years old at middle level may not serve purpose, as new leader has to wait for next 20 years to reach in core team. Do they have so much patience?

These leadership development programs are failing. They can’t develop in corporate laboratory. Leadership needs test of time and open challenges. They should work in high challenging environment/projects. Then only they will understand the pain in leadership. Anna Hazare or Dhirubahi never went to any management school. They learned it through hand on experience. No 9 to 6 job can develop a leader. This may be my personal opinion.   

If management is serious on development program, they have to have patience. They have to build repo and show commitment. Chankya worked on Chandragupta for years to get him up on ladder. It is like showing dreams and helping them to achieve. Instead of branding these program as talent retention one, management should own it like growing a tree. People have power to grow. No technology can replace it.  Great people can reap great dreams.

Just eyeing outside for right talent may not help. I have seen people came in organization at very high cost and then those fails as they could not compete with internal talent. Talent can’t just be imported. It needs hands on development.

Shared Service

Objective, Definition, and benefits

This is new management jargon. We can compare it with centralizing the transaction activities. However, is slightly different as it is customers orientated with service mind-set. In highly competitive environment, Shared service may become a competitive tool for cost advantage. Bringing all mindless jobs under one roof make sense. It may help in thinning the processes at optimal level.

Its effectiveness may vary from company to company. It is tough tool to implement and get meat out of it. It also needs some tough decisions. People management and realignment mistakes may cost the organization.

 Types of Terms

Centralization: Bringing decentred operations from various locations to one place

Shared service: Bringing all transactions activities at same place.  

POE (Pocket of excellence) : It is highly specialised work conducted by highly specialised professionals like legal, litigations, or R&D.  


Make project plan

List down activity list

Identify Transactions and specialised activities through defined format/framework

Propose model of working for both worlds (Transaction and left-out one)

Collect SOPs or Make SOP – Swim lanes from process owners

Define Escalation matrix / Define governance model

Performance Management – HR Joke

I went through this exercise yesterday. A long round of discussion on my strength and weakness (area of improvement) happened with my boss. I am lucky one I got a discussion. In most of the companies in India, it is just face value. Perceptions rule it. In the end, you need to align with boss’s goal and objective and have to make his chair secure.

It is very seasonal. It comes once in a year. It drives alertness and rumour mills in management circle. Some managers have tough role to tell his subordinate where he is lacking or what can him more productive.

Like many, I am weak in boss management. Boss has extra need of information feed. It is natural in a human. Top managers are most insecure lot.

I am against yearly appraisal. It is very difficult to judge a person on yearly basis. It should be project/task specific. People have short memory and have to rate subordinate based on last three month’s performance. At the last 50’s managers can’t think beyond three months in past. In future, they are trained to see beyond 20-30 years. But past memory erased quickly for them. Poor subordinate has to pay for it.

Even if management has to give time based performance incentive, duration should be four or six months. One year is too long. HR managers don’t like frequent query handling. Yearly performance measurement supports them.

Same managers offer double salary when you leave. It shows weakness in system to identify true performers.

Optimization Vs Innovation

Any organization needs growth which can come through optimization or innovation. Innovation needs destruction. Creation of new path is difficult. It involves risk. It can’t happen every day. After trying multiple ideas, only few succeeds. Outside environment like competition or technology decides need of optimization and innovations.
Optimization needs more efforts however less risky. Optimization of process, system, or organization needs consistent effort for survival. Organizations depute army of change managers to fuel this need.

Both optimization and innovation are simultaneously happens in any system. Their ratios may be different. Growth goddess needs them. Product cycle curve is fixed (S Curve). Tech products are more vulnerable to environment. They need more innovation. Faiths like religion needs less changes. They work on written or unwritten constitutions.

Complacent organization has less life time. US companies have seen it. Business has shifted to China or India at the name of optimization. Cost reduction is consistent need for survival.

On global front, countries are investing less on higher education (innovation). Politics, security, and economics have taken over need to innovate by human. We need more budget allocations and focus on education and innovation. There should be idea centres/cafes then bookish education. Google has made bookish education less useful. Creating products for future generations is need of hour.

Mid career changes

I am thinking to shift to telecom but apprehensive about future outcome. Skill set is not growing in quality function now. I have reached at a level where it is difficult to improve skills. That is prompting me to change job to operation. Having experince and qualification in telecom prompt me to go for Telecom Venture. I have a chance too. Many things are coming to my mnd while deciding.

Pro in Telecom
1. Skill development in new area
2. Generating scope and hope for future. High risk/ high reward.

Cons in Telecom
1. Highly volatile market. Known for job losses
2. Support function like quality have longivity

Leave my case aside, it is difficult to change course after 10-12 years of experince. IN current environment , it is necessary to keep updating skill which is difficult in same field. Support staff is most secure job as they are immune to technology change and demand supply fluctuation. They can change the company easily as demand for HR, Quality, admin, IT management will remain same across sectors. Skills require in these functions are not very different in different companies.

Pro and cons to be evaluated while changing jobs especially mid career changes.