Leadership Training Before And After COVID-19

For the past 20 years we have been interviewing top leaders for various media platforms, from Presidents to CEO’s to many social influencers. In 2019 however we went on a crusade of interviewing leadership experts and authors on just about every continent of the planet, via Zoom. Our search was about the state of leadership globally. Without exception all participants were of the opinion that we had a global leadership crisis. Now that was before COVID-19.

The crisis was already manifesting itself by way of disgruntled citizens marching on just about every continent; disengaged employees as indicated by various surveys; underperformance of economies and organisations; distrust between leaders and followers; rampant corruption; and too much more to mention. Will these signs increase in the near future, especially post-COVID-19? We have no reason to believe it won’t, exponentially.

If there is a crisis in leadership then there has to be a crisis in leadership development. Just as most organisations and industries are using this COVID-19 moment of pause to re-evaluate, re-think and transform, so also should the leadership development industry.

We simply cannot go back to how we developed leaders before COVID-19, because collectively speaking we were already failing then. With the leadership challenge now more acute than ever, if we go back to previous ways, we will fall hopelessly short of what the world needs, of growing authentic and purposeful leaders for the post-COVID-19 world. It will be a case of backward regression…compounded.   

The past role of leadership development

The world pre-COVID-19 spent billions on leadership training and development to change behavior, often at the top. Yet, by far the majority participants returned from the training and huge investments largely the same. How could any program have changed leaders fast and effectively enough when they attended sporadic two-day sessions – though of high quality – and perhaps monthly coaching engagements? It was always going to be near impossible in today’s VUCA world…now on steroids. 

The gap between knowing something, as taught in a program or read in a book, and then doing it naturally, can only be closed by a disciplined and conscious process of changing habit – several reminders daily, for at least 21 days the experts say. In short, it is hard work and the subconscious mind is inherently lazy, according to research done.

You may agree that one of the most difficult things to do in life is changing an important and not perceived as urgent behavior or habit. And even more difficult is changing a behavior you aren’t aware of. Also, change is even more unlikely when you are already perceived – whether by yourself and/or others – as successful; at the top; happy.

Ultimately you can’t escape the following short and much simplified steps for speedy and authentic change: 1) Raise your urgency levels for wanting or needing to change; 2) Define who you want to be, what visible behaviors it entails; 3) Somehow set several daily reminders for at least 21 days to practice, until you have adopted the desired behavior; 4) Become actively involved inside a Leadership Ecosystem (community) – if you try to learn a new language by yourself or even in school or varsity it will take much longer than immersing yourself in an ecosystem or community where you hear it spoken every day, around you, to you, with you and by you. It is the same with leadership development.

The proposed solution for the future

All this have come to a head. Our planet – especially the post-COVID-19 one – needs leaders to change for the better, faster. Of course, an individual can initiate personal change on his own. In fact, doing it on own accord is the best and most permanent way. But let’s be realistic, most leadership development – behavior change processes – are initiated by organisations where budgets are set aside to pay professionals. Now, for the unforeseeable future these budgets will be under serious strain, for obvious reasons, yet we have to hasten the work of multiplying Authentic and Purposeful leaders. Hence, more than ever it is absolutely important that every organization has its own, fairly independent, cost efficient and robust leadership development system that works; that helps individual leaders take ownership of their own development; that actually changes thinking and behavior.

So, we approach the proposed solution with this question: What has changed our society for good, especially since the arrival of COVID-19? The digital domain – social media and digital platforms. It rose to the occasion and made it possible to respond to the challenge, increase communication about it, collaborate and mobilize to fight the virus and keep relationships, businesses, extended families and friendships going?

We should take our cue from this trend. To leapfrog improvement in leadership development, leverage the digital domain by planting a powerful digital platform inside your organization, to augment, magnify and in some cases replace whatever you are or were doing. Sending leaders on leadership programs in isolation, for the sporadic face to face day session or coaching, just won’t cut it anymore. Perhaps it never did. Your digital platform shouldn’t just be digital for the sake of being digital but has to be a vibrant “Leadership Ecosystem” (Community) that connects and aligns conversations, communication and collaboration on everything leadership, between leaders and experts worldwide, inside your organization and inside teams.

Now there are probably various digital platforms out there and more will surface. But the Leadership Ecosystem we are proposing should allow for individual leaders to immerse themselves in all things leadership, to speed up and continually update their leadership thinking, understanding, development and growth.

The Ecosystem must connect with how we lead as a society and within that, how you lead as an organization, teams and individuals and it has to increase individual, team and organizational leadership fitness, action, accountability and improvement. Most importantly, it must help change behavior that leads to improved leadership of self, team, organization and society.

ThinkLead in all of this

Forward steps ThinkLead®, perfectly timed. It was created for all the above and many more reasons. It is a digital Leadership Ecosystem in which you immerse your leaders so that they learn to THINK and LEAD at an unprecedented level…faster; so that they can build authentic character by changing behavior faster, through their Personal Leadership Development Plan inside I-LEAD that sends regular reminders; so that they can act, align and collaborate with their team, organization and environment within the WE-LEAD space; so that they can engage the ever growing, relevant and interactive resource library inside the I-LEARN space, in order to Re-Learn and THINK at an unprecedented level.

If you are an individual leader that wants to change, grow and advance faster, let us know and we will welcome you into the ThinkLead Leadership Ecosystem.

If you represent an organization and the above makes sense, lets talk…on Zoom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adriaan Groenewald

Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.

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