3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part I

04/16/2015 05:27 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

By: Jim Finkelstein & Melissa Mead

All the time and money in the world doesn't necessarily buy or translate into effective leadership development. Ironically, seventy billion dollars was spent in the US and over $130 billion worldwide on corporate training (Forbes, 2014). Why spend billions of dollars and countless hours on leadership programs, when efficiency has not necessarily been proven? Much of leadership development is built on several long-standing myths.

Through a 3-part series, we will dissect three basic myths of leadership development and uncover the truths hidden behind them. These myths are: Leadership is Knowledge, Leadership Development Should Happen Only with the Top Leaders, and Leadership Development is about Learning, Not Asking.

Myth #1: "Leadership is Knowledge"

People often assume that leadership equates to knowledge. Think about how many times leaders (ourselves included) have left leadership events or programs chalked full of ideas and ready to make change, only to find things back to business as usual within a few days in the office. This is the challenge with "event-driven" leadership development programs -- the focus stays on knowledge and retaining new ideas and concepts. Sitting through a survey, or assessment, or retreat, or training session, simply absorbing information, is not what is going to make us or our learning and coaching strategies better.

To build effective leadership development programs, efforts need to shift to a leadership program or model that accounts for the intellectual knowledge base, as well as the emotional capacity and opportunity to actually make changes. It is being aware that building or altering a leadership development model takes more than just spelling it out on a piece of paper. Leaders need the opportunity to actualize what they have learned on a daily basis. With this in mind, effective leadership programs and models are built to engage the desire to change within our organizations in both thought and the opportunity to execute the ideas.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the series as we look at the Myth #2 in leadership development.

Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense

Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run