People Development: Irritation or Obligation?

Posted by on Apr 29, 2022 in Business Management, Culture, Leadership


I know I harp on about the great divide between management and leadership, and with just cause.
In the midst of a contract with a very large organisation I was asked to speak to a cohort of inspiring people, identified as potential leaders, participating in a three-day leadership course. OK, the truth is I was probably an after-thought given many permanent senior managers and executive, who should have been the ones sharing and engaging, were just “too busy”. As always, and as anticipated, the experience was as much a learning one for me as I hope it was for them; the feedback suggested they benefited, as I know I did.

A shock during our conversations, was the resounding theme where the course participants had been actively discouraged from spending three days away from their job on the “frivolity of management training”. These people had “things to do” and the folly of bettering themselves, well, that just wasn’t going to help anyone now, was it?! (Truth be told, a basic Excel learners’ course is probably two full days, and you get a certificate…).

No, this wasn’t a century or even a decade ago, or in a galaxy far, far, away, although the comparison to a parallel universe can’t be ignored.
My takeout of this: Firstly, the opportunity for training was probably aimed more towards spending a traditionally underspent budget than anything to do with the participants learning. Secondly, the surprise that the organisation’s leaders wouldn’t, or didn’t, participate – and there we have poor management and zero sign of leadership. Thirdly, my disappointment with the pressure these people were subjected to so as to avoid distraction to their day-job; again, a sign of poor management and demonstrated ‘lacking’ from the ‘leadership’ team.
That those participating had the fortitude to insist on the development opportunity is testament to their drive for growth and betterment; after all, it’s always tough facing a belligerent, bitter boss. 
Leap only a few years forward and I’ve seen many of those who attended continuing to rise through the ranks of various enterprises since – and good for them.
Of interest and intrigue (no, there are no surprises) is that, while these people were prepared to reinvest back, those rising aren’t doing so at the organisation in question – and isn’t that a genuine loss for that place and a gain for their current employers?!

Organisationally I think it’s your obligation to assist your people reach their comfortable potential, not to allow the satisfaction of the status quo supress them.

On that note, I’m happy to talk with you about fulfilling your team’s leadership potential – just be prepared to be engaged!