Training Today: The Lost Leadership Capability

A recent DSI Strategic Leadership Forum, which hosted more than 15 business and learning leaders from varying industries, highlighted a critical, cross-industry deficit in strategic leadership capabilities and development.

By Samantha Howland, Senior Partner and Executive Training Director, DSI

In an era of unprecedented uncertainty, the ability to think strategically has emerged as an indispensable skill in helping leaders and organizations navigate change and sustain growth. Yet, for those charged with identifying and developing strategic thinkers, there is no clear path.

A recent DSI Strategic Leadership Forum, which hosted more than 15 business and learning leaders from varying industries, reaffirmed this point. The roundtable discussion highlighted a critical, cross-industry deficit in strategic leadership capabilities and development. Hot buttons included:

  1. A Fuzzy Framework. Leaders pinpointed the lack of a clear framework or working vocabulary to build and develop strategic leaders as a key challenge. This results in poorly conceived and unfocused efforts to build strategic leadership capability. Since it is hard and unnatural to target strategic leadership, most organizations still default to rewarding executional, tactical, and technical achievements. Leadership development programs lack robust tools or metrics to build strategic capabilities because a coherent framework is missing.
  2. Sinking Risk Thresholds. Executives also acknowledged the ever-increasing pressure to excel in an atmosphere where failure and risk are deemed unacceptable—despite research that proves the benefits of mistakes. Organizations primarily reward short-term results, so long-term strategic thinking and development often fall by the wayside.

This strategic gap among top executives didn’t happen overnight. It has been a slow progression, and one DSI has been working with leaders to overcome for more than two decades. DSI’s approach is based around The 6 Elements of Strategic Thinking: anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align, and learn. By assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in each area, it’s possible to identify actionable steps to increase his or her strategic aptitude. To learn more or to assess your own strategic aptitude, visit http://www.decisionstrat.com.

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders.