Why Leadership Development Programs Fail and a Viable Solution


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The Importance of Leadership Development

Leadership Development is integral to the success of medium and large companies. In fact, according to a “global survey of 13,124 leaders and 1,528 human resource professionals by talent management consultancy DDI and the Conference Board” (Forbes), “companies with high leadership qualities were six times more likely to be among the top 20 financial performers of all organizations,” (Switch & Shift).

Greater financial success and leadership qualities intersect where the right leaders are employed in the right roles and successfully communicate to their teams to the end of greater efficiency, appropriate vetting of ideas, and achieving goals that are fed by the strengths of the team. Through leadership development programs, executive team members are able to develop leadership skills, build stronger relationships with each other, and more skillfully develop their direct reports.

An interesting caution a McKinsey & Company report points out about leadership is that “context is a critical component of successful leadership. A brilliant leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another.” This observation is one that the Predictive Index leadership development system emphasizes at the point of talent acquisition and aims to make adjustments for during executive development (PI Midlantic). Effective leadership development programs help leaders determine their own strengths and weaknesses and in which situations they will best perform. Additionally, they can identify potential hurdles with the overall company structure based on strengths of the leaders compared with the current situation they’re facing.

One point to keep in mind when considering a leadership development program for your own company, is that regardless of the style or origin of the program, effective leadership development always starts with an in-depth awareness of one’s behavior and how it impacts others in the organization.

Why Leadership Programs Fail

Although most business management sources conclude that a leadership development program is an essential part of any medium or large business strategy, some cautions appear in recent articles from Forbes and Psychology Today.

Leadership Advisor and author Mike Myatt writes in Forbes that the biggest mistake an individual could make when choosing a leadership program is to choose one that focuses on leadership training versus leadership development.

Myatt describes the difference: “Training focuses on best practices, while development focuses on next practices. Training is often a rote, one directional, one dimensional, one size fits all, authoritarian process that imposes static, outdated information on people. The majority of training takes place within a monologue (lecture/presentation) rather than a dialog. Perhaps worst of all, training usually occurs within a vacuum driven by past experience, not by future needs.”

Executive coach and author Ray Williams postulates that some leadership development programs fail because “most leadership development initiatives focus on competencies, skill development and techniques, which is some ways is like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. Good leaders need to become masters of themselves before they can attempt to be masters of anything else.” (Psychology Today).

With these cautions reminding us to focus on future practices and inner development rather than established practices and techniques, we point our critical eye towards the Predictive Index solution.

A Well-Balanced Solution: Leadership Development with the Predictive Index

The Predictive Index leadership development program focuses on a leader’s style and communication with their team. Additionally, team members are analyzed for their styles and motivators. PI Midlantic, a PI Worldwide Member Firm and 30 year consulting veteran for the Predictive Index System shares their leadership program structure:

“Combining the elements of 360 feedback, Predictive Index assessment and one-to-one meetings and phone sessions, we work with executives in a systematic process to accentuate their strengths, neutralize career-stallers and developmental needs, and focus on improving key metrics of success.

“Throughout the Predictive Index leadership development process, which lasts three months to one year, executives who undergo leadership development will become certified in the Predictive Index. Through their PI training, they will get an overview of their own leadership style and how they tend to communicate to their team. Members of their team will take the PI Assessment to determine to what leadership style they respond best, how they are best motivated, and how they best communicate.

“The Predictive Index consultant working with the company then works one on one with each leader to create a unique perspective and plan for the team based on the styles of the team matched with that of the leader. Challenges the team are facing based on their make-up are analyzed and possible solutions mapped out. Additionally, the leader is coached on how to get the most of their employees.”


In conclusion, leadership development programs are generally considered a vital part of successful medium and large companies’ paths to financial success.

When considering selecting a leadership program for your own company, it’s important to avoid possible pitfalls by focusing too much on established practices and techniques rather than strategy that best fits your team and goals.

The Predictive Index system is a solution that takes into consideration the styles of the talent your company has and offers a custom strategy based on those styles to maximize your company’s results and translate them to lasting financial success.