For most LD leaders, the budgeting process is the same every year – estimating numbers based on past experiences, looking at industry trends, and considering internal training and talent needs for the year ahead.  The semantics of programs and the fees change slightly, but not much more.  It’s time we take an honest look at the return on investments.

Consider this excerpt from the findings of the Global Leadership Forecast 2018 (by DDI, The Conference Board and EY):

Over the past two decades, I have written several articles and addressed many audiences about the state of leadership.  Sadly, the studies have consistently shown that 50% to 75% of leaders are ineffective.  The reason for these dismal numbers is that many leaders are in the wrong roles and many are not held accountable for ineffective or, in some cases, for inappropriate behaviors.

Here’s a simple analogy regarding the return.  If you were to planning to buy a new car at $50,000 that you learned would only run 25% to 50% of the time, you wouldn’t consider the purchase.  Yet, we are investing at least 50 billion dollars annually on leadership development initiatives that are only 25% to 50% effective.  It seems that senior leadership is generally not seeing or giving full attention to these results.  Let’s face it – this is not the type of news that is welcomed so it tends to be ignored.  Clearly, leadership development and effective leader performance is essential, so how do we achieve returns that sustain success?

My upcoming book (to be released in 2019), Transforming LEADEROCRITY™, provides insights as to why the state of leadership is in such peril and details what we can do to change the cycle.

As we approach this upcoming budgeting period, I encourage you to make a difference.  You can stop the cycle of unacceptable return on investments in leadership development initiatives at your organization.  The first step is to stop investing in one-size-fits all training and leadership coaching.  Also, stop investing in coaching that does not use appropriate deep-dive assessments at the front end of the coaching tenure.  You may want to read “Beyond 360s – Deep Dive Coaching” to gain more insights on this approach.

The bottom line is leadership development initiatives, in order to be successful, need to begin with helping leaders gain an acute level of self-awareness, and then formulate an accurate developmental plan from there based on what each leader needs.  Leadership development and training without directly linking to one’s personal strengths, needs, and risk factors is what we call the “Teflon principle.”  You toss stuff up, hoping it will stick.  Unfortunately, today’s leadership development budgeting process relies on the Teflon principle… and it is not yielding “stick-able” (i.e. sustainable) results.

Our firm offers executive coaching and Authentic Leadership Learning Experiences that both begin by helping leaders gain a clear sense of self at a much deeper level.  We start by having leaders complete our in-depth CDR Character, CDR Risk, and CDR Drivers & Rewards Assessments – also known as our CDR 3-D Suite.  We also train external and internal executive coaches to use these tools and proprietary methodologies.

Our clients’ success speaks for itself. Here’s feedback from clients who have gone through the “CDR” leadership development process:

“I was first introduced to the CDR assessment in 2008. At the time, I was in the process of developing a leadership development series with Dr. Val Ulstad (of Partners at Cascade Bluff) that recipients of a Bush Leadership Fellowship would participate in as part of their grant experience. When Val first recommended using the CDR as part of the series, I was very dismissive. By this time in my professional life I had taken enough personality instruments, including Myers Briggs more than once, to find them all extremely under whelming and not very useful. Basically, these kinds of instruments were a waste of time in my opinion. Val persisted though, and finally I agreed to take the instrument and have her coach me.

By the time my coaching session with Val was done, I was a believer in the CDR. So many of the things Val interpreted for me, were things I thought I knew or knew intuitively, but through her skilled coaching, I had  new ways of understanding myself and actions I could take to get better results in my life. Participants in our seminars had the same reaction as I did to the CDR., which was super cool, especially given how diverse the group was professionally, ethnically and geographically.”

– Martha Lee, Bush Foundation (former role)

Minneapolis, MN


And another comment regarding ROI:

“I cannot say enough good things about Nancy and her team at CDR. I just started my new job as a COO of a drug development startup when I saw Nancy speak at a conference. In her short 40-minute session at the conference, I knew immediately I could benefit from her help. Her approach to leadership coaching was immensely helpful. I gained valuable insights into my leadership style and I particularly enjoyed her session on how stress impacts me as a leader. That part of our session is something I use almost every day. 

As a scientist, the data-based assessment was very appealing and gave me some good data to rely on when discussing my role at the company with the board and my CEO. In addition, while the assessments were very thorough, what I enjoyed most was my one-on-one coaching session with Nancy. Her advice, opinion, and experiential knowledge gave me some good perspective on my current job and also my future career. So much so that I wish I had done this years ago! 

Finally, being at a startup, money is always a concern for me and at first, I was hesitant; however, I immediately saw the benefit and know that the ROI on this investment will be high!” 

– Elaine Hamm, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer

Oklahoma City, OK 12/18/17

(Now CEO at Ascend BioVentures as of 6/3/18)