“I want every decision big or small to be run by me. I will have the final say, end of story,” said Roger the CEO of a medium-sized professional service company, “This period of time is so important to the company and there is so much on the line we can't afford to make a mistake.”
Fast forward two years and Roger is no longer CEO, and the current management team is still digging themselves out of the ditch Roger’s mandate caused. There was a time in the not-so-distant past where leaders knew every little detail and made every important decision. Yet, in today’s modern workplace, there are too many things happening for any leader to sustain this type of mandate in 2019 and beyond.
In order to have a successful organization today, a different model is required. One that has leaders at all levels of the organizations empowered to make decisions and model servant leadership behaviors.
Most organizations rely heavily on promoting top performers to management positions hoping they make the leap with ease. Once a person hits a certain pay grade, they invest in their development in various ways with an intense focus on financial acumen and identifying process improvements. While these two skills in particular play a major part in the success of the organization, it doesn't account for the most important job this person now has, which is the relationship they have with the employees they lead.
Because of the lack of development on the human side, many leaders default to a micromanagement style of leadership. The end result is a disengaged workforce too reliant on one person to make any decision, big or small.
Organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Movement Mortgage and Skookum Digital Works have taken a different approach. They focus on developing leadership skills not just at the C-Suite or the Director level, but at every level of the organization. While this approach can be time-consuming and more expensive in the short-term, what it leads to is workforce who is prepared to lead right where they are.
In preliminary research by LearnLoft of 300 leaders, companies who have invested in professional leadership development training for these 300 professionals have a higher percentage of top performers, a lower percentage of voluntary turnover, and a higher percentage of employees being promoted compared to companies who don’t offer development opportunities for their people. While these results absolutely impact the bottom line, it’s always difficult to account for an exact amount, especially considering the positive impact these leaders will have over time.
While I am sure every CEO, HR or Learning and Development professional would love to be able to pinpoint the exact ROI, I believe there is a bigger purpose at play.
It’s simply the right thing to do for people
Every professional isn’t going to become the greatest leader walking the earth, but each person can become a better leader right where they are. Frontline employees will provide a better experience to customers, managers will have healthier teams, and moms and dads will have a stronger family structure outside of work.
So the question becomes, are you only investing in the people at the top of your organization or are you investing in leaders at all levels of your organization?
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.