Growing Importance of Leadership Development. Don't forget the "Human" Part of HR.

It seems as if one cannot read a newspaper or listen to the news without seeing another high-profile example of poor leadership - whether it be business, education or politics. Some recent examples:

- The Subprime Crisis: Excellent companies getting into a heap of trouble because of not so great behavior/leadership by key people.

- The Presidential Campaign: Members of each candidate's team have at times engaged in behavior or made decisions that have reflected poorly and in some cases have been detrimental to a candidate's campaign.

- Executive Compensation: CEOs and their Board's compensation committees blindly following what Warren Buffet calls the "all the other kids have one" mentality of paying CEOs astronomical compensation for lousy results - resulting in shareholder backlash.

- Federal Employees: Several agencies reported millions of dollars in unauthorized charges on staff members Government issued credit cards due to breakdowns in internal controls and/or virtually no management oversight.

Some may argue these are outlier examples and others may say this stuff goes on all the time at every level of our society. I don't know, but the point is many problems organizations find themselves in can be avoided by installing a culture of great leadership.

I remember talking to a former CEO of a major Fortune 500 firm after the Enron debacle that resulted in new government regulations intended to minimize a repeat of such behavior. While he cautiously welcomed the new regulations, he said no amount of regulation will stop unscrupulous leaders from cheating the system.

Leadership begins with hiring the right people for your organization and then training and developing them to become effective leaders - and HR must play a central role in this.

And if you don't?

I again quote business guru Warren Buffet who said that in evaluating people, you look for three qualities: (1) Integrity, (2) Intelligence, (3) Energy. He then said that if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

It's no wonder the demand for leadership development services is so high at the moment. In fact, leadership development has become as hot a buzzword in talent management these days. At HRmarketer, we work with a lot of these firms and they all have about as much business as they can handle. This is great news for human capital consulting suppliers. And unlike talent management where technology is often front-and-center, in leadership development, people (consultants, coaches, etc.) are front and center and technology plays an albeit important but supporting role (online assessments, analysis/reporting, dashboards, etc.). And many pure play talent management software firms are beginning to realize the importance of good old fashioned human capital consulting services.

It seems like the more things change, the more things remain the same. All of us in the HR space, myself included, get caught up in the latest technology but at the end of the day, this is a people business and technology, as important as it is, can only do so much.

Posted by Mark Willaman

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