Are Your Leadership Development Efforts Paying Off?

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$14 billion is a high price to pay when there’s very little to show for it in return, but that’s exactly what’s happening with many organizations’ leadership development programs, according to a new McKinsey article.

How can it be that so many companies are claiming leadership development is their number one concern and priority—and they’re investing literally billions of dollars a year into improving the capabilities of their leaders—yet a large majority of these programs are ultimately failing?

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“Thinking Managers” More Critical Than Ever

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In his groundbreaking book, The Creative Brain, Ned Herrmann wrote about the important move to Whole Brain® management as a necessity for business survival and success. The primarily left-mode thinking (A and B quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model) prevalent in most organizations’ leadership teams would hold them back, he warned, because:

The right brain (especially D quadrant) is the only part of our brains that deals effectively with change. As essential as left-modes are to business success, they spell slow death for a company when used without the right-brain modes…If change is constant, in order to compete effectively in a world characterized by change, business managers must function in all four of the brain’s different modes, right as well as left, upper as well as lower.

Today, we’re seeing this play out almost to the extreme. Managers at all levels are requiring increased agility to deal with a level and pace of change, complexity and uncertainty that’s even more intense than it was when Ned first wrote about it.

But what exactly is Whole Brain® management? Ned emphasizes that it’s not about de-emphasizing the left modes of thinking or putting the right modes into “exclusive ascendance.” It’s also not about mentally restructuring the corporation:

What I do mean is this: When designing and implementing responses to business issues and challenges, the human brain functions at its most innovative, productive best only when all four quadrants engage situationally and iteratively in the process.

In mental terms, this means no organization that restricts its mental options to A and B quadrants alone can hope to prevail over the organization that uses A, B, C and D.

For managers, in particular, that means realizing “that we function situationally—that we have equal access to all four [styles of thinking] so that when the situation calls for a given type of mental function, we can give it our best response.”

Check out our recent white paper, Navigating in an Unpredictable and Complex World: Why Thinking Agility is Critical to a Manager's Success, for tips and strategies to help today’s managers use their own—and others’— thinking in the most optimal way.

Because the more things change, the more we need Whole Brain® management!

How will you adapt? White Paper

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Developing High Potentials? Here’s Why Thinking Has Everything to Do With It

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Companies are increasingly optimistic about growth, according to new research from Right Management. That’s the good news.

The bad? “Only 6% of companies in the Americas say, ‘We have an ample leadership pipeline that will cover most of our needs.’” (“Trends in Talent Management: Employers Optimistic on Growth but Lack of 'Ready Now' Leaders will Impede Success,” Right Management)

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Tips for Leading Cognitive Diversity in Teams

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One of the things we know from the research on team performance is that getting great results from a team isn’t just about everyone getting along or coming to quick agreement. In fact, when the problems are complex or we need to push the boundaries for innovation, creative abrasion, which comes from the collaboration of diverse thinking styles and perspectives, can make the difference.

But it can also make people uncomfortable.

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The Case for Slower Management: Agility Isn’t Just About Speed

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There’s a famous line from the movie The Princess Bride that could easily refer to the way so many of us define what it means to be agile leaders and managers:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Agility doesn't mean what you think it means

When I hear the word “agility,” my first thought is always: Speed. I need to constantly be moving fast, staying nimble in the face of continual changes and complexities. It’s as if the old playground game of “Think Fast!” has become the daily battle cry, and I have to not only stay ahead of the pace but also be ready to shift on a dime when the unexpected comes up.

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Engage the Brains of Your High Potentials & Managers As If Your Business Depends On It (Because it Does)

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High-potential leaders are critical to ensuring businesses can meet their goals now and in years to come, and that’s why one of the most pressing human resource challenges today is a lack of up-and-coming managerial talent to quickly and effectively execute on critical strategies and initiatives.

A recent PWC survey found that 50% of business leaders say their biggest challenge is recruiting and retaining high-potential middle managers. The impact, they report, is being felt across the business, from cancelled or delayed strategic initiatives to missed market opportunities and an inability to innovative effectively.

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Is A Survival Mentality Holding Your Business Back? Free Chapter Download

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For the past few years we’ve heard a lot about what businesses need to do to survive through the recession and survive in the new economic environment we’ve entered.

No question, these strategies have been helpful and important. But it’s equally important to remember that, although operating in survival mode can keep heads above water, it’s only a short-term solution. And this short-term mentality impacts companies even when it’s not related to tough economic conditions.

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Manager Agility, Speed and Adaptability: The New Differentiators

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We’re living in an environment in which there always seems to be too much work and not enough time. That’s one of the reasons why agility, speed and adaptability are being touted as the new competitive advantages for organizations.

At the level of execution in particular, agility has never been more critical to organizational success, and the responsibilities are lying squarely on the shoulders of today’s managers. Being able to move the organization from Point A to Point B quickly and effectively requires managers who can optimize communications, workflows, problem solving and performance.

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Leaders Need to Develop Their Thinking Agility

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In a recent video interview, Tapping into the Brain for Powerful Results, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrmann International, shared why thinking agility is so important for leaders today, and why the ability to adapt to situations as they arise and focus energy on optimizing thinking processes is critical to the development of the next generation of leadership.

The interview, which was conducted at the 2012 ASTD International Conference and Expo, is part of a Training & Development Insights documentary project sponsored by Cooper Services. In it, Ann explains how leaders can become more balanced in thinking both strategically and tactically.

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Hiring Is Up, But Will Your New Hires Stay?

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Earlier this year, we talked about the challenges new hires often face when joining a company, and how organizations and their leaders can “teach culture” to ease the onboarding process.

Another new survey of 500 human resource professionals shows just how important the onboarding and employee engagement processes are — in real financial terms.

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