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Why Leadership-Development Efforts Fail

Leadership has become the hottest topic in business. Companies see this hard-to-pin-down ability as essential to organizational success, and they want their executives to learn how to exercise it. As a result, they are investing heavily in leadership-development programs and honing eloquent statements about the importance of developing next-generation leaders at every organizational level. And yet these speeches and investments have often failed the companies seeking to create a pipeline of leaders.

The authors have identified three pathologies at the root of many leadership-development failures. They cite outdated thinking about ownership of the efforts, a product-focused, quick-fix mentality, and make-believe metrics that measure activity rather than capability. The danger is that these pathologies will sour companies on leadership development, leading them to cut investment and go back to waiting passively for leaders to emerge. But that approach has failed in the past and will continue to do so. Companies that make leadership development a core business process can overcome the pathologies and prepare the individuals and teams they will need to take their organizations to greater heights.

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