The Toughest Questions In Leadership Development At Rapid Growth Firms

Many corporate leadership development efforts can only be classified as
“conservative” or “old school”. Most of the existing leadership development program designs only fit the needs of well-established large corporations with relatively slow growth rates. But how would the traditional leadership development approach have to be modified to meet the expectations of rapidly growing Internet firms with breathtaking growth rates, unique needs, a relatively young employee base and unique corporate cultures?

I don’t have all the answers yet but after several months of discussions
with managers from firms like Google and Facebook, I have identified some
of the impossibly hard questions that need to be answered early on during
the program’s design phase.

“The Dirty Dozen” Leadership Development Program “Questions From Hell”

Can you answer these 12 questions with data and facts, as opposed to
opinions and beliefs?

  1. Can you prove to the CFO’s satisfaction the direct “cause and effect relationship” between improved business results and great leadership development programs?
  2. What are the critical success factors or key program elements that must be present for a leadership development program to produce extraordinary results? What are the “program killers” that when present guarantee mediocre results?
  3. What observable “actions” differentiate leaders from non-leaders in a team-oriented “influence rather than order” culture?
  4. How can you clearly define the difference between a leader and a manager?
  5. What is the right ratio of leaders to employees? And leaders to managers?
  6. What behaviors, skills, and actions best define someone with leadership potential?
  7. What are the most accurate ways to identify leadership potential?
  8. What are the most effective approaches for developing potential leaders?
  9. How can both the identification and the development processes incorporate the use of new technologies (including the Internet, social networks, Wiki’s etc.), so that development is faster and more “remote” capable?
  10. How can leadership development programs be “customized” to the individual needs of the country, department, and the individual?
  11. What program design features are necessary in order to get managers to “own” and accept responsibility for leadership development?
  12. How do you objectively measure the success of a leadership development program?

These leadership development program “questions from hell” are
both thought-provoking and of course, extremely hard to answer. Do you
agree? Any additions? Any answers?
© Dr. John Sullivan 12/7/08

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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