Often when I meet with experienced CEOs or HR leaders, they are preoccupied by two questions: What is the best way to develop my leaders? And how do I know it works? These are crucial questions for top executives of any progressive organization. Making the wrong decision can be very costly, leading to declines in productivity, lower employee engagement, higher turnover, diminished revenues, missed sales – the list goes on. Not to mention that the investment in talent development is in itself significant.

The worry is pervasive. “The Future of Leadership Development,” an insightful piece in the Harvard Business Review, notes that more than half of senior leaders believe their talent development programs are not adequately building the critical skills and organizational capabilities they need.

That’s right – more than 50 per cent are concerned their investments in leadership development aren’t working and aren’t helping to strengthen their organizations for the future.

Complicating matters is the wide proliferation of choices for development programs, led traditionally by universities, including in-house teaching programs. A mainstay for decades, they are today joined by training firms, consultants and online education companies – all vying for the corporate training dollar.

As the authors of the article point out, there are three key reasons for the discontent:

  1. Differing motivations for the training. Companies invest to further their interests; employees sign on to further their careers.
  2. A divide between what is taught in the programs and the soft skills that are critical to organizations today.
  3. The “skills transfer gap” – what is learned in the classroom isn’t being applied on the job.

In my view, there are very many strong traditional university-centred leadership programs, and I think the authors – Harvard’s Das Narayandas and Mihnea Moldoveanu of Rotman – would agree. But the world is changing rapidly, and they point to the rise of the “personal learning cloud – the growing mix of online courses, social and interactive platforms, and learning tools from both traditional institutions and upstarts.”

This shift will help. But I also believe that there needs to be a highly personalized, persistent and measured approach.

My field of leadership coaching leverages and strengthens other methods of development. I’ve found the best coaching experience is highly tailored – a program designed after careful and methodical evaluation.

A professional coaching experience closes the gap between employee and employer motivations by understanding and then addressing both.

A coaching approach is highly effective when there is a careful and credible match between the leader and coach, creating a relationship built on a foundation of trust, commitment and respect. To make a guaranteed match, it helps if there is a deep roster of professional coaches to select from.

Another advantage to coaching is how its influence endures. Concepts are re-enforced, progress monitored, results measured. The person or group being coached is accountable, as is the coach.

Several years ago, Vision Coaching wanted to go even farther. We wanted to create a platform that would bring flexibility to the learning and the evaluations, that would create a system of tracking and reporting of results. A system that would allow an employer to monitor progress too, while maintaining the confidentiality between the coach and employee.

We created a cloud-based software solution that became an essential part of our V1 Coaching system. Like the personal learning cloud, the online portal brings a powerful element of flexible learning, measurement and accountability.

Most importantly, we have made it possible to determine, when appropriate, what the return on investment is for our coaching engagements.

Because we know how important it is for CEOs and HR leaders to be assured their investments in people are delivering the right results – both for their talent and for their business.

Dave Veale founded Vision Coaching Inc. in 2005 with a mission to empower top talent to lead with effectiveness, navigate change and drive business performance. The Vision team of coaching professionals are accredited with the International Coaching Federation and include successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, lawyers and human resource leaders. Our pioneering V1 Coaching System, ensures accountability, quality assurance and measurable results for every coaching relationship.