Why Leadership Training Shouldn’t Be Just for Top Performers
Organizations typically provide leadership training opportunities to those who already have a track record of success, creating a situation where training resources end up disproportionately going toward individuals who may need it the least, according to Winny Shen, Professor of Organization Studies at the Schulich School of Business.
In a newly published article on the Harvard Business Review website (HBR.org), Professor Shen and her co-author, Navio Kwok, Vice President of Research and Marketing at Kilberry, discuss three problematic beliefs that contribute to this paradox.
First, they argue that people often erroneously assume that success is purely the result of personal efforts. Second, companies often rely almost exclusively on past performance to decide who should be granted access to leadership training. And third, decision-makers assume that leadership training will only benefit those who are motivated. However, says Shen, the reality is that without opportunities for growth, weaknesses and disadvantages tend to accumulate, past performance focuses on existing roles that may be quite dissimilar from future roles, and whereas highly eager individuals may develop regardless of access to leadership training, those who are less eager in actuality do develop when provided these opportunities.
As a result, the authors argue that it is important for organizations to offer leadership training to a wider cross-section of their workforce. “This not only helps to enhance the available pool of talent, but it also serves to make organizations more resilient because they aren’t reliant on a small handful of so-called star performers,” says Shen.