Thoughts from Gretchen – January 2023

Thoughts from Gretchen

It was hard for me to write the subject line for this email. Blame is not a word that I love or a practice that I subscribe to, but a thing is happening in the leadership development industry that is driving me crazy. Billions are invested worldwide with little to no accountability for applying the learning, and it’s a common practice for senior leadership to exclude themselves from leadership development efforts. 83% of businesses say it’s important to develop leaders at all levels; they are not just talking about junior levels. To invest your leadership development dollars without clear accountability to attend and to change as a result is simply investing in slowing down your rate of decline.

To adapt and evolve at a pace that justifies the investment, you need almost 100% of your senior leadership to model positive leadership behaviors almost always.

High-speed organizational growth depends on two factors: percentage of leadership modeling positive leadership behaviors and the frequency of that modeling.

In the absence of accountability to actively demonstrate positive leadership behaviors, people nod their heads, tick the training box, and talk about excellent training for a couple of weeks before returning to familiar patterns. In reality, fewer than 15% actualize the learnings into new behaviors, and the remaining 85% wait for the behaviors to become common practice which happens – never. Why is this true? Because changing behaviors and relinquishing outdated mindsets is personal, risky, and uncertain. 

5 Ways to Do Better in 2023

  • Invest in leadership development that addresses competence, character, and consciousness – specifically, in mindset coaching. Without it, no change is sustainable.
  • Be unanimously vigilant about protecting leadership development training hours; i.e., do not allow senior leaders to schedule meetings over top of these hours. This is a chronic problem in the leadership development space. It sends a clear message to employees that senior leaders see leadership development efforts as secondary to strategic priorities, instead of imperative to the mission. Every year that a company delays leadership development, it costs 7% of its sales. What is the cost of investing without accountability? 
  • Engage your senior leadership team in the development efforts – no hall passes! If your senior leaders are not modeling the same positive leadership behaviors that you are asking of the rest of the organization, you essentially have one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. Keep in mind that the more seniority a person has, the more they have at risk – reputation, prestige, compensation, etc. – when changing (or staying the same).
  • Cascade your leadership development efforts into the organization in a tangible, visible way. To reduce resistance, you must increase psychological safety to try new behaviors and share new thinking (at @pLinkLeadership, we do this with audio and visual Positive Nudges®).
  • Hold every leader you are investing training dollars in accountable to actively demonstrating positive leadership behaviors on an almost-always basis.
  • You need bright, highly engaged employees who are investing serious intellectual horsepower in your organization to adapt and grow. The talent picture, with and without positive leadership, is clear:

The single greatest obstacle to executing on innovative ideas is human nature. Positive leadership unleashes our better nature.

Until soon,

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Positive leadership elevates everyone and everything it touches, including the bottom line.
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Gretchen Pisano

Gretchen Pisano is the CEO and co-founder of pLink Leadership®. As a Master Certified Coach, her life’s work is helping people become wildly effective leaders and more awesome humans, fostering the transformation of business. The mother of three, Gretchen lives with her husband, children, and Goldendoodles in Maryland.