I recently received an email from a colleague who I had been working with for several weeks on a project with a small but highly influential organisation. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that his reason for contacting me was to share the news that he was considering leaving his current employer and to ask me if I would consider providing him with some coaching support.
Our subsequent conversation followed an all too familiar path.
“I’m pretty much like everybody else on our Leadership Development programme” he confided. “I was originally selected because I contributed more than the others. I stood out because I was more committed and was highly motivated. I got things done”
“That’s pretty normal in my experience” I responded. “A lot of organisations start their selection process using similar criteria. Don’t under estimate the value of being a good doer but I think I know what you are experiencing”
“Yes I know how important it is to deliver but having got onto the programme I find that it’s not developing me as leader – well not how I think I should be developed anyway. Everything is focussed on me not on the people that I’m supposed to be leading. It’s about tools and techniques in the main and doesn’t seem to recognise that as a leader I also need to develop others to become the leaders of tomorrow. This aspect is completely missing”
His frustration was evident for everyone to see.
“You know it’s strange but pretty much everyone that I coach is on a leadership programme of some sort or another. Some like the early career graduates have to be; others are on them through choice but most of them share a similar experience to you” I responded.
“The real irony is that my organisation is totally focussed on measuring outcomes, deliverables and the quality of everything we do. Everything, that is, apart from the quality and outcome of our leadership. It isn’t even on our radar screen”
“And that’s what you would like to talk with me about” I said.
“Yes” he replied confidently.
I rather thought it might be…..