Assessing the issue of training and development

Leadership Development around the world remains stalled, by Karen Higginbotham and published on Forbes. The article highlights the lack of quality leadership within organizations and the frustrations that HR professionals have with regards to not only the lack of leadership but the lack of talent development within most organizations. There is a sense among the HR community that leadership talent development is not taken seriously as a priority, and that organizations often suffer as the result.

Surveys have also indicated that many leaders do not feel ready to deal with the challenges of the world around them, in particular the ambiguity and volatility of a world where changes occur so rapidly. This lack of confidence clearly highlights the weaknesses of leadership development programs, because even those who are in leadership positions struggle with the challenges of the 21st century business environment.

Some of the costs of this leadership development problem are highlighted. Organizations suffer because their leadership pipelines are not well-developed, leaving them to deal with challenges but without the quality of leadership to do it. Organizations feel that they will be left behind in competition if they do not have more and better leaders. The problem, however, is that many companies while complaining about these things have not invested much time or money into training and development programs for leadership.

This article intersects with the coursework in a couple of important ways. The first is with respect to the issue of training and development. One of the most important steps in developing a training program is to conduct a needs assessment. The organization will identify what it needs going forward and assess whether or not it has these skills and attributes at present. If an organization understands that its leadership pipeline is of insufficient quality or quantity, the next natural step is to begin to set up training programs. The Forbes article seems to indicate that even when companies are aware of the problem — that they have conducted a needs assessment — they have not responded well.

There are many different aspects to training and development. It could be that organizations are expecting business schools to take care of the leadership training, but formal education is just one source of training and development. A lot of leadership can come from on-the-job training, apprenticeship/mentorship, and building leaders through a variety of progressive work experiences. Ultimately, when organizations fail to take these steps, assuming that outside forces will do it for them, they find themselves with shortages. Then, people get put into leadership positions they are not truly ready to take. That is when you have leaders who lack confidence to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and organizations decrying the lack of quality in their leadership.

The other area where the issues in this article intersect with the course material is with the issue of strategic human resource management. Strategic human resource management is a situation where organizations recruit and train employees such that they are able to contribute to the organization’s overall strategic objectives. Leaders in particular need to perform at a high level, in order to help guide the other employees. It is important that the human resource management policies are aligned with the overall strategy of the company.

That there is a shortage of leaders hints that perhaps in many organizations there is a misalignment between the training and development functions and the strategy of the company. Recruitment and selection are only one part of strategic HRM, in that the company has to find good people. But ultimately, a company cannot rely on external talent development to meet its objectives; it needs to have a source of developing in-house talent. That means training and development, pay/benefits, and performance appraisal and feedback.

For example, if there are weaknesses in leadership, and the company is having trouble addressing that externally because there is an overall shortage of high quality leadership talent in the economy, there are multiple ways this can be addressed. The first is by increasing pay so that the company attracts more outside candidates. The second is to improve training & development such that the company identifies its needs and then ensures it has the people within the company to meet those needs. Further, the company needs to retain talent that it has trained.

Where there is a problem that has been identified throughout the entire economy, it points to the fact that many firms are cutting corners on training & development. This is not surprising, because there are still many companies that do not consider human resources as part of their strategy. Yet strategic human resources management makes sense for all companies, because ultimately the companies that identify their needs and ensure that they can meet those needs are the companies that will have the greatest competitive advantages.


Higginbotham, K. (2014). Leadership development around the world remains stalled. Forbes. Retrieved November 2, 2014 from

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