Leadership development services are at least a $134 billion annual expenditure in the US, leading many to consider the estimated and actual Return on Investment (ROI).
A six-month study of U.S. Military Academy cadets at West Point provided some clues.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Peter Harms collaborated with Paul Lester of the U.S. Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Directory, U.S. Military Academy’ Sean Hanna, Gretchen Vogelgesang of Federal Management Partners, and University of Washington’s Bruce Avolio to evaluate:
- -Candidates’s readiness to receive candid feedback from a variety of sources,
- –Mentoring from an engaged, supportive leadership coach,
-Realistic advancement opportunities in the organization.
Participants were randomly assigned to an individual mentorship program or classroom-based group leadership training.
Those who participated in the semi-formal mentorships were significantly more likely to report increased confidence in assuming a leadership role than those in the classroom training.
Mentoring group’s effectiveness was significantly related to a coaches’ ability to:
- Establish a trust-based collaborative relationship,
- Provide support,
- Offer candid, observational feedback,
- Become sponsors and advocates when the cadets assert leadership.
Additionally, participants who experienced greatest gains in leadership skills and confidence were:
- Open to receiving candid feedback from mentors,
- Willing to receive challenging and negative feedback.
The least expensive approach to leadership development did not produce the greatest results, suggesting the importance of individualized attention.
This effect was demonstrated when attention from authorities became a placebo effect for 250 patients with documented symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Those who received the most individualized attention in three no-treatment conditions reported the greatest symptom relief even though they received no medical intervention and participants were informed that the “treatment” was a placebo , found Harvard’s Ted Kaptchuk.
The most important “active ingredient” in leadership development training may be personalized attention, followed by candidates’s readiness to receive candid feedback and to implement recommendations.
-*How has personalized mentoring helped you develop leadership competencies?