When It Comes to Leadership Training, Don’t Pay Lip Service

When It Comes to Leadership Training, Don’t Pay Lip Service

Source: This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Written by: Dean Sippel, CEO of the Jack Welch Management Institute

Exactly how many times have you read the classic anecdote about investing in people? It goes like this: CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?” CEO answers: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

The moral is that leadership training and development need to be a cornerstone of every organization. And yet, when it’s time to tighten up the budget, it’s the first line item to be cut. Eliminating training is an illogical cost-cutting measure, considering that a company’s most important asset is its people. Training and development are painfully playing out to be no more than lip service in many organizations. Per Karen Higginbottom at Forbes, “half of L&D decision makers think learning is not important and 42% lack direction from the top.”


I’m not just referencing training in terms of getting the staff the latest software or the best data analytics course. While keeping the team technically savvy is important, it’s leadership skills that are critical.

You can throw a rock and hit ten different reports about how AI and automation will change the workforce. And they are right, to a degree. I doubt we’ll see an outright elimination of the workforce, but we will see an increased need in critical thinking and leadership skills. At SXSW in 2017, Mark Cuban said: “Knowing how to critically think and assess from a global perspective … is going to be more valuable than what we see as exciting careers today which might be programming or CPA or those types of things.”


Professional development is major leverage in employee engagement. There’s a direct correlation between highly engaged employees and profit – 26% profit gains from the top 10% of companies ranked by engagement, according to Gallup. The way to kindle that engagement fire in the team is with dedicated, leadership-infused, coach-like managers. This is what we do daily at the Jack Welch Management Institute; produce graduates who can rally their organizations with a proven leadership methodology and win.

It’s high time to stop talking about how much we value training and development and then secretly trim the budget to reduce it. Bring the HR department—the People’s Department—to a seat at the head of the table and advocate for your team. By normalizing training and actively encouraging development, you’ll get the best of your employees and ensure your company will always be ahead of the coming automation storm.

And maybe we can put that age-old anecdote to rest.

Dean Sippel is CEO of the Jack Welch Management Institute. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win. The program was recently recognized as a Top 10 Global Online MBA Program by CEO Magazine and a Top 25 Online MBA Program by Princeton Review for its excellence in five areas of selection criteria: academics, selectivity, faculty, technical platforms, and career outcomes.


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