DiSC Work of Leaders® and Why Leadership Development Fails

Leadership LeadersThe Impact of Superior Leadership 

We know that effective leadership is critically important.  We understand that it impacts the way companies are run, and how productive and profitable they are.  However, we also know that confidence in leadership is at an all-time low and continues to drop.  Not only is this visible in employee surveys, but also in the turnaround of managers in the workplace.  On average, a senior manager only stays in their position for 7.6 years, down from 9.5 years in 1995.

Some experts are now suggesting that this is due to the fact that although we know that we need to develop our leaders and managers, we don’t know how to do this.  Leadership development is a multi-million dollar industry, but one that focuses on the wrong issues.  In fact, some would go so far as to say that these businesses are not about improving management, but rather simply about improving their own bank balance.  Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes made in the industry.

Everything DiSC Work of Leaders ProfileThe Problem With Acting Without
Some Baseline Data

One of the biggest mistakes companies make if to attempt an initiative to develop more effective leaders in their organization without any attempt to understand where their current leaders are when measuring what makes great leaders.  What makes a great leader?  How do we develop great leaders?  These are important questions to ponder and answer.  Assessment is an important first step to not only understand the current state of your leaders but also develop strategies to improver every leader in the organization.

The Everything DiSC Work of Leaders Profile is a time tested solution that gives the organization a foundation to begin the development process.  Using the framework of Vision, Alignment, and Execution, Work of Leaders delivers feedback to help leaders understand their own personal leadership behaviors and how they impact their effectiveness as a leader.  A rich, dynamic narrative adds a personalized depth to the resulting report and strong visuals support the learning process by illustrating key messages and actionable strategies for development and growth of existing and emerging leaders.

Everything DiSC Work of Leaders is used as online pre-work for the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders Training Kit for those organizations that wish to take the assessment phase to another leadership development level.  Using engaging facilitation with contemporary video, organizations can create a personalized leadership learning experience.  Based on best practices developed from 4-years of focused research, Work of Leaders connects to real-world demands, generating powerful conversations that provide a clear path for action in developing great leaders.

Getting the Context Right

One of the biggest problems is that many leadership development programs are getting the context completely wrong or approaching it from an improper perspective.  Leadership is a one-to-many relationship as opposed to the one-to-one relationship of managers.  While all managers are leaders not all leaders are managers.

“Too many training initiatives we come across rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture, or CEO mandate.” 
Why Leadership Development Programs Fail

Indeed, the recommendation is for organizations to first think about what it is that they want to achieve, not just in terms of their development, but also in terms of the overall strategic goals of the company itself.  Once they have an understanding of that, they should create a focused leadership development program.  This way, they know that their specific and individual needs are understood and met.

The Power Mindset

Another issue is that too many managers still don’t understand what it takes to become a leader.  It is still a very male-dominated world, which means women often feel they have to take on male qualities in order to succeed.  Some managers feel that being able to lead is something that you are born with, rather than something that you can learn.  They believe that those who have a power mindset are those who will succeed in management, which is simply untrue.

“Older ways of managing, predominantly a command and control style persist, and these ways collide with the new realities of what makes organizations and their employees behave, which requires a system of shared accountability and responsibility.”  Why Leadership Development Fails To Produce Good Leaders

As such, it should be recognized that everyone is a leader in their own way.  Everybody should be accountable and responsible.  This is something that managers need to be developed to do.

A Misunderstanding of Training

Finally, leadership development should be exactly that: development.  As such, it should not be “training.”  Training implies that a set format fits everybody, that there is a set of behaviors that follow certain rules that you can be taught.  Managers should be coached, mentored and developed.  They should not be trained.

“Training is something leaders dread and will try and avoid, whereas they will embrace and look forward to development.  Development is nuanced, contextual, collaborative, fluid, and above all else, actionable.” 
The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails

Training Versus Development

There are many differences between training and development, and understanding these differences will greatly improve leadership development as a whole.  For instance, training is about maintenance, whereas development is about growth.  Similarly, training is about indoctrination, whereas development is about education.  These are huge differences and you must be aware of these in order to get the development right.  Any company that offers leadership development programs should be aware of this, too.


Co-owner/Co-founder of Intesi! Resources. Educated as an architect I transitioned to technology during my career in architecture. Intesi! Resources was founded in 2004 and my focus is everything Web/eCommerce related from the design and development of our site to all the marketing activities involved. I also provide significant support for our clients on all our products and how they are used to deliver assessment-driven learning solutions that develop self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

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