What Happens to Learners on the Way to the Top?

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You've seen them. The ambitious management newcomers who are eager to learn.

It's easy to find entry-level or middle management folks who want to expand their toolkits, enhance their skills and move up the ladder. So, why does development seem to fall to the bottom of an executive's "to-do" list as he or she rises to the top? A recent article in Talent Management provides some insight.

A survey of leadership-training firm Zenger Folkman’s extensive database of leadership 360 results shows that as leaders advance in the organization, they receive consistently lower scores to the question: “The leader asks for and responds to feedback.”

Front-line and early career managers regularly ask for and respond to feedback. For them, self-improvement is part of the job and they're rewarded for taking steps to improve their performance and welcome information that helps them advance.

Unfortunately, Zenger Folkman's survey shows that barely half of senior leaders receive positive scores for self-development efforts. As seasoned performers, many executives convey the image of being "ready now" and stop encouraging and relying on feedback from those around them. Their direct reports and colleagues reinforce this by offering progressively less feedback as the executive's advancement continues.

Does this mean that leaders are "fully formed" by the time they get to the executive suite? Not necessarily. But executives understand the importance of maintaining a strong personal brand as they progress and work to convey messages of strength and capability.

The end result of this decline in development can have unintended consequences. Many senior leaders find themselves with little free time and rely on leadership tools they learned decades before. Receiving minimal feedback and having little opportunity for self-reflection, they miss the relevance of growth opportunities for their and their organization’s continued success.

Can good leaders learn to be great ones?

There is a tendency to focus on those just starting out and to ignore executives in the formation of development plans. However, we've found that senior leaders appreciate being able to share ideas and issues. Our unique Cohort Coaching programs can provide the opportunity for you to convene a group of 6 to 9 individuals from across the organization to address leadership topics identified as having the highest future value for both the individuals and the organization.

On-going personal development benefits even the most senior people when made available to a group of like-minded leaders. Participants in Cohort Coaching explore high performance leadership principles and bring their leadership challenges to the table in a non-threatening environment. With the help of the cohort and coach, the members strengthen their leadership effectiveness in “real-time” situations, and in the process they can move from being good leaders to great ones.

Let us show you how our leadership development programs can benefit your high performers at every level. Call 503.635.3079 or contact us for more information.

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