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The leadership development fallacy

Leadership development is great for the individual, but what are the benefits to the organisation? Why should HR teams invest in this kind of learning for their people at a time when budgets might be restricted?

Simply, because it will have a significant impact on the success of the organisation.

High-performance culture

In times of uncertainty, challenge and economic difficulty (can you tell we’re trying to avoid saying ‘recession’?), organisations rely on a high-performance culture to be able to continue the business goals and objectives. This isn’t the time for people to be quietly quitting, doing the bare minimum and disconnecting from the purpose of the business.

So how does leadership development reinforce – or even create – a high-performance culture?

Learning about your values, your purpose, and the kind of leader you were born to be sounds great – for the individual. But the reality is, investing in this kind of learning will give your organisation an advantage over those who don’t. It will give you a tribe of driven, adaptable self-leaders who embrace change, leading with clarity, confidence, and compassion; leaders who create environments of mental and emotional wellbeing for themselves and others; and problem solvers who positively challenge and bring innovative ideas to your organisation. Highly skilled leaders who not only role model high-performance but know how to create high-performance cultures to get the best out of their teams.  

This isn’t about just weathering the storm – it’s about super-charging the capabilities of your workforce so you come out of the coming months stronger than ever.

Retain your brightest talent

The latest insights from the Deloitte 2022 Gen Z and Millennial survey revealed that 4 in 10 people would like to leave their jobs in the next 2 years – a third of whom would leave without another job lined up.

Although the world changed overnight in early 2020, the reasons why people choose to stay with an organisation did not. People still want belonging, growth, leadership, and to feel valued.

When we surveyed talent in 2021 to find out what they really wanted from employers, 96% rated ‘opportunities for personal growth and progression’ as the best way an organisation can show they value you.

And, only 6% said the quality of the leadership they are experiencing made them want to stay in their current role. As the old adage goes, people don’t leave a job – they leave a boss.

These are just 2 reasons why investing in your talent – and specifically leadership development – will have a wider impact on your organisation, not just the individual.

Increase leadership capabilities

Leadership is a skill that can absolutely be learned… providing it’s taught and developed in the right way.

How many times have you seen someone given a leadership role because of their technical knowledge but given no leadership training, only to struggle? Or being offered some kind leadership training, but after weeks or months of actually assuming a leadership position? It’s the equivalent of being pushed out of an aeroplane and being told, ‘Give it a go! See if you can work out how to land safely, and if you master it, we’ll teach you how to work the parachute.’ I think we can all see some pretty gaping holes in that plan.

And, contrary to what some may say, leaders aren’t born – some people may have natural talent in certain aspects of it, but the skill of effective leadership isn’t just picked up by osmosis. It’s something that needs expert development, support and coaching to enable people to become high-performing, effective leaders.

And done right, the impact is significant, not only on the individuals, but their teams and your organisation.

GoCardless placed a group of their female talent on our Master Programme, and within 12 months every single delegate had been promoted, with wider scopes of responsibility. Eleanor Bird, Head of Talent Development at GoCardless, says of the programme: “It’s safe to say, we now have some incredible female leaders who are driving our business forward in their own authentic way – and that is due to Ivy House”.

Similarly, Selfridges were keen to fast-track the leadership capabilities of their talent and develop a group of committed, future leaders who were passionate about driving Selfridges forwards. After completing an Ivy House programme, Vanessa Broe – Group Senior People Manager – reported: “A number of our colleagues have gone on to bigger roles and the feedback from their managers was that they were able to see a marked improvement in their leadership capabilities”.

Turn the talent of today into the leaders of tomorrow

For those of us who remember the 2008 recession, what we learned was that those who invested in their talent going in, came out stronger than the rest.  

But it has to be the right investment.

Most programmes are built to simply develop a set of skills that ‘good’ leaders are deemed to need… which doesn’t fundamentally change behaviour. And that’s the bottom line, right? If you’re going to create real, deep-seated change, you need to know how to do exactly that.

The good news? That’s our expertise.

We are experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Our approach is truly unique and our results exceptional. Our programmes create transformational, long-term change in individuals, behaviour, performance and culture.





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