Leadership Development Mistakes

The leadership development industry is thriving.  Many of the best practices and models from the last 50 years still work, and we still use many at 3WH, but many programmes fail to deliver.  We aim to deliver real, lasting change by approaching leadership development from a organisational approach, not hierarchal.


  1. Develop by hierarchy over organisation.  Horizontal development rarely changes leadership cultures or behaviours.  Talent is within your whole organisation, and therefore why wait for them to reach a certain level before you develop them.  In many cases they will never reach that level because talented people don’t hang about for development to happen.  They go to where they can find it.
  2. Start in the middle.  Many businesses think that they need to develop managers to become leaders and then all of their problems will go away.  We believe that development starts at the top.  We work with the senior leaders first to gain total clarity on the culture, behaviours, and skills that need to be embedded into the business.  Then we work with the senior team to model them, develop themselves and their own approaches, to start a positive ripple effect.  Only when the leaders have total clarity and purpose, will we design emerging leaders, management development and cultural development programmes.
  3. Sheep Dipping:  A big mistake is to “send” someone on training.  Transferring the responsibility to the individual to develop means that you will gain bespoke development that is engaging.  Though you may identify the core competencies and behaviours required, how each individual develops these is a deeply personal journey.  This is why we encourage continual learning, active learning, coaching as well as workshops and courses.
  4. Instant results:  Development takes time, and change comes from within.  No matter how many times we are taught or told, it is only when an individual is ready to adopt the new approach, learning or behaviour, will they embrace it.  Often, seeing role models and best practice achieve results will be a catalyst for change, which is why we recommend starting at the top, but it still takes time.
  5. Finish before you see results:  Many organisations get impatient and change the programme or direction before the benefits have time to embed.  As a result there becomes internal apathy – just another initiative mindset.  It takes boldness and courage to maintain momentum even when only small gains are being made initially.  But this cultural and leadership development is a long, strategic but so very necessary programme.