5 Reasons Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

In today’s era, the leadership development program isn’t developing leaders. That is because the true meaning of leadership has lost somewhere.

People are investing a lot of money in these leadership programs every year. Yet these don’t produce the required qualities in leaders.

There can be various reasons for this. The major reason is that there is a gap between the leaders and the people they are leading.

Why this disconnecting gap exists? This is because a lot of time invests on contextual learning like case studies.

To cut this gap, one should use a better way of training.

Why leadership development isn’t developing leaders
Why leadership development isn’t developing leaders

This better way is to get people to work in the actual leading situation. Rather than planned exercises. It will make things much more realistic.

The learning styles are more effective. When these generate an emotional response in the people.

It makes them look at the bigger picture. And reach out for the non-traditional and developmental methods of training.

Since time and resources are always invested in leadership programs. So it is to make sure that this time and resources don’t go wasted. Taking careful steps will make the time and resources worth it.

Now the question arises that what does make the leadership programs ineffective?

The factors that cause the inefficiency of leadership programs will be discussed further.

But before looking at these factors let me remind you of the basics of leadership. Leadership is all about:

– Setting an appropriate direction

– Allocating the resources

– Getting the right people to work

– Taking the responsibility of outcomes

These points should always remain in mind while you’re thinking of becoming a leader.

5 Reasons Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders

Coming back to the topic, why leadership development programs fail to develop leaders?

Here we are going to discuss 5 reasons why leadership development programs aren’t developing leaders.

1. Unidentified Goal Of Leadership Development Programs:

Most organizations focus on leadership programs offered by well-known institutions.

Investing money in those programs they send their managers to those programs. Without knowing the need behind it.

Businesses should first ask themselves what do they need from this program? What are the goals of the organization? How the outcomes will contribute to achieving the organizational goals?

The reason for failed business leadership programs is that they chase everything.

When they want to develop leadership, they start chasing it.

Instead of making a match between organizational needs and leadership program outcomes. They keep on chasing leadership. And when you will chase something, you will lose it.

Unidentified Goal Of Leadership Development Programs
Unidentified Goal Of Leadership Development Programs

The goal of successful leadership is not having effective leaders only.

The goal is to have strong leadership. That contributes to the long-term success of the business.

SEE ALSO: 8 Reasons Why Leadership Skills Are Important.

2. Not Being Able To Apply Learnings:

The leadership programs to deliver contextual learning.

The participants learn leadership only through theories or case studies. Or they get placed in unnatural situations that program design.

These scenarios deliver no knowledge about how to handle real situations.

What happens when people learn in that kind of environment? They learn new things but don’t know how to make use of their learning.

Leaders come out of these training all excited to apply their new learning. But as soon as they start to work again in the real situation.

They get confused about how to apply what they have learned in those real business problems.

Unidentified Goal Of Leadership Development Programs
Not Being Able To Apply Learnings

Leadership is not something taught and delivered in theories or books. Not even a curriculum taught by the people who haven’t led anything.

The capacity to lead is not developed in classrooms or by teaching books.

Instead, the capacity to lead builds up by working on the working desk. In real-time situations solving day to day issues and achieving a business goal.

3. Lack Of Appropriate People And Time:

Companies contain large working staff. Not every one of them is ready to be the leader.

Some employees in the company are ready for it and some aren’t.

It’s a crucial task to identify people who can hold the lead. The ones who can develop the characteristics of a leader.

Lack Of Appropriate People And Time
Lack Of Appropriate People And Time

Leadership development fails when the authorities can’t identify the right people.

Sending people to leadership programs who aren’t suitable at all will cause damage only.

It is obvious that what you put will what you get. So putting the right people at the work will get the desired outcomes.

When you are investing resources and time in such programs. Then also make sure to put the right people to be the leaders.

For this purpose, surveys and interviews can be helpful. As they narrow the focus for who should be in these programs, why and when.

4. Undesired Outcomes Of Leadership Development Programs:

Businesses invest so many resources and a lot of time in leadership courses. They want their leaders to be at their best.

Since there is an investment of time and resources. The leadership programs should be engaging and attracting.

No doubt that teamwork and social interaction are important elements of leadership programs. But these shouldn’t be the only outcomes gained at the end.

Most businesses get their leaders enrolled in leadership programs. But they aren’t satisfied with the outcomes.

This is because they wanted something that can be profitable for their business.

Having an unidentified goal, it’s impossible to have desired outcomes at the end.

Why leadership development isn’t developing leaders
Undesired Outcomes Of Leadership Programs

For instance, the desired outcome of a business can be good leadership.

Such leadership which increases employee engagement and customer satisfaction. But in the end, leadership fails to increase employee engagement.

This can cause a drastic effect on the business. So leadership fails when desired outcomes aren’t achieved.

5. Not Being Able To Get Uncomfortable:

This is a significant reason why leadership development isn’t developing leaders.

Leadership programs are developing leaders which starts considering themselves perfect. They know to work only in favourable conditions. That is wrong.

The need for leadership programs is to develop leaders. That can best tackle the uncertain situations.

They should realize that they are humans too and they need directions as well.

Leadership is not only for one or two projects. It’s a life long journey.

In which a leader keeps on learning from his mistakes. He should understand that he can be wrong at times and his behaviour can be inconsistent.

Leadership programs develop leaders that are not familiar with uncertain situations. That is not taught to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

Not Being Able To Get Uncomfortable
Not Being Able To Get Uncomfortable

The ones who put a full stop to their learning as they consider themselves perfect. But, it’s expected from leadership programs to develop the best leaders.

The best leaders are constant learners. They want to get honest feedback and always want to move forward in life.

SEE ALSO: 18 Most Effective Styles And Types Of Leadership


Concluding this article, it would be right to say that leadership programs fail. Because these develop leaders under the same repeated situation like a cramming system.

Leadership development that generates the best returns includes communication.  Transparent communication with bosses, peers and subordinates.

In other words, it should make a leader responsible for personal accountability.

Leadership development is as important as any other business aspect. So there is a need to give it proper attention. And it’s successful when it involves:

– An identified goal

– The right people

– Proper application of learnings

– Measurable outcomes

A leadership development program is successful when it focuses on delivering real-time guidance.

Guidance on how to overcome the actual challenges of the company. This will help the business to achieve its desired outcomes.

Please share your precious view with us. Please do comment and what you think on this.

Last Updated on 3 years by Shahzaib Arshad

Shahzaib Arshad
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