If you pull aside your average mid-level manager to ask them about their most meaningful leadership development experience, the chances are good that they will need more than just a few moments to recall their best experience. This is also assuming that they ever had a meaningful leadership development session. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. Far too often, the day-to-day operations overshadows time for leadership development. Yet without training and development, the organization becomes stagnant.

The Tenure Trap

The prevailing attitude in business circles is that the focus on training should be for newer employees. This implies that tenured employees don’t need development. That’s like saying a knife doesn’t need sharpening simply because it’s serviced you faithfully for a long time. 

Setting New Expectations 

Nothing in today’s business environment should be viewed without also examining the bigger picture. When leaders miss the mark, blaming them without examining the greater environment is impolite at best and a gross lapse in personnel management at worst. Assessment is the best way to measure leaders in a way that produces tangible data. We can then use the results to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the employee in question, and set new expectations. 


It bears repeating that it is not worth it to set new expectations without measuring what’s already present within the organization. 


Could Simple Assessments Have Uncovered These Historical Mistakes?

 A troubled string of unethical business deals. Stagnant earnings despite multiple acquisitions. Limited insights and weak execution leading to slumped sales. All of these examples are from the very public failings of leaders that were once celebrated: Doug Ivester of Coca-Cola, Jill Barad of Mattel, and the infamous Jeffrey Skilling of Enron. 

 Could leadership assessments have provided more insights into the weaknesses that ended up seriously damaging the company, both in terms of profitability as well as increasing reputational risk throughout the organization? 

Naturally, hindsight is always clearer than being right in the middle of the battle, but assessments do give a clearer picture of employees, including the leadership that is trusted with the core mission of the business. 

Reassurances for Implementers

  • Is the data enough to make decisions without people? No. (You’ll still need meetings.)
  • Are we still going to have to revisit this topic frequently? Yes. 
  • Can we be assured that we’re providing not just basic onboarding, but extended support? Absolutely. 

All roads lead to leadership development, whether an organization realizes it or not. 


Always Time to Correct Course

 When faced with the presence of leaders that aren’t living up to their full potential, it is natural to feel that it is impossible to correct course, or that there just isn’t enough time to not only assess and analyze but also implement a new plan. The truth is that there is always time to correct course.

Remember that while there are timeless, innate, and necessary characteristics of good leaders, the reality is that great leaders are built. They do not happen by chance, despite many reports to the contrary. 

Instead of chasing the perfect candidate that will take a team, department, or section to greater heights, take the time to cultivate the leaders that you already have. Examine their strengths and celebrate them regularly, but also make room for leadership development to form the cornerstone of your business. 

This is what it means to embrace a growth mindset within the organization. 

There is always time to correct course and embrace transforming the leaders you already have into the leaders your organization truly needs. Not only is this a positive for the business, but it’s also a signal to all employees that your company is walking the walk instead of just sending yet another email full of promises. 


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