Redworks Blog (all posts)

Why Most Leadership Development Training Efforts Fail

George was seen as an up-and-coming leader in the organization. People who worked for him liked and respected him. Senior leaders saw his potential and wanted him to attend the company’s leadership development workshop.

George was ecstatic. He loved the organization and wanted to move up and contribute as much as he could. He saw this opportunity as a positive step in that progression. Plus, he had some challenges in his job that he hoped he could learn how to deal with more successfully.

After he found out he was slated to attend the workshop, George didn’t hear anything more about the training until about a week before it began. With the workshop details in hand, he was excited all over again. Excited, that is, until he looked at his calendar and saw how much he had to do prior to the start of the workshop.

Because the training meant so much to him, he was determined to be focused while he was there, so he worked really hard to get all of his projects caught up before he left for the workshop.

George loved the workshop! The facilitator was great, the content was helpful, and the food was even good! He was very motivated by the new ideas and the people he met. His confidence level increased as they practiced some of the things they learned. As an outcome of the program, he built an action plan. He left the two-day workshop completely stoked about what he had learned and how he would be able to apply it.

After the Workshop

George woke up the next morning and reviewed his action plan. He was excited because he knew what he would do to become a better leader starting today.

Back at work, he fired up his computer and checked his voice mails – 23 messages.

His heart sank a little. As he listened to the messages, taking notes as needed, he opened up his emails and found an even more depressing sight – 91 emails. Giving them a quick glance, they all required him to read, work through and respond.

After getting a cup of coffee, George went to say hello to his team. This took awhile because they had questions and issues they wanted to discuss with him. By 9:15 am he was back at his desk, ready to tackle all the phone and email messages including seven new emails that had come in while he was out.

By 3:00 pm he had mostly forgotten about his action plan and only remembered it when he saw the document in his briefcase. He took it out and looked at it wistfully. He was still committed to working on those items, but they would have to wait awhile, as the next project meeting was all day tomorrow.

Reviewing the Situation

Perhaps the situation above sounds familiar to you – a willing learner, a well-designed workshop, and a person excited about their action plan.

Admittedly, this story might be a bit too rosy, not everyone who attends training will be as excited and motivated as George. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter because a highly motivated person like George won’t get as much from this effort as he could.


Because while most leadership development programs focus on developing great training, that is a small part of the overall likelihood of success. Why? Because, training is an event, but learning including leadership development is a process.

We don’t learn important, complex life skills in a brief instant. We don’t learn to play a musical instrument in a one-day workshop.

From a training event, we can have insights, be inspired, get ideas, approaches, checklists, and knowledge.

Skills, however, develop over time and not in a one-shot, one-time training course regardless of how well it is designed or how awesome the trainer is. It’s not a one and done activity that someone can check off their to-do list. Learning new skills come with practice and application.

Leadership development is a process and as long as those efforts are training events, the return on those investments will never be high.

Make your leadership development process more successful

To make your leadership development process, whether for yourself or your organization, be more successful, the Leader Foundations Leadership Academy is a customized program specifically created to support new leaders build a solid foundation to succeed in their new roles.

This interactive, practical learning and implementation program will get leaders up to speed fast. They will identify skills they need to develop or strengthen to level up and increase their effectiveness.

For more information about the Leader Foundations Leadership Academy please visit: