Forget the Smile Sheets – The Time for OJD Has Come

The leadership development landscape extends from webinars to workshops, from public seminars to in-house programs. As someone who specializes in the field, I am quite familiar with the traditional measures employed to determine the quality of such programs, like the infamous post-workshop smile sheet. While no one likes a “5 thumbs-up” rating more than me, the reality is that these assessments are ineffective.

Blog - OTD - architectsThe real impact of leadership development is narrowed to a single point—the effectiveness that the developed leader exhibits on the job. This changes the equation from in-the-classroom training to on-the-job development, what I refer to as OJD.

A 2014 study by Bersin by Delotite describes a successful model for professional development as one composed of:

  • 70% learning through on the job practice and experience;
  • 20% from coaching, feedback, and networking; and
  • 10% through more traditional training workshops.

Seventy percent is a big number, and it represents a major shift toward results-based performance. This model requires a focus on three familiar concepts that are aligned differently for a unique purpose.

OJD Success Factors

  1. Having a manager as coach

The manager in this case is the manager of the leader that is being developed. For OJD to work, the manager’s role is one of coach and teacher. This is a full-time responsibility, not as a once-a-year evaluator of the person’s performance. As coach, the manager spends quality time giving feedback, delegating meaningful assignments, and preparing and debriefing critical meetings or presentations with the individual. One could assume that the coaching responsibility is only required for working with “new” leaders. On the contrary—this applies to people managers up and down the entire organization.

  1. Creating pragmatic and job-focused training

Leadership concepts and frameworks, like motivational theory and management styles, as well as systems thinking and partnering best practices, are important, not just for educational value but for their applicability. McClellands’ theory of motivation or Kotter’s model for change leadership are good because they “work.” As these insights are seasoned through practice and application, they become practical tools that create leadership effectiveness. Workshops, therefore, must be a successive approximation of real work, a laboratory environment to learn and practice before they go live in the field.

  1. Taking ownership for your professional development

Even with a great manager-coach, meaningful development assignment, and high-quality training, you have to take ownership for your own development. No one else cares more about your professional success than you (and maybe your mother). Thinking that other people or the organization itself will look out for your development is naïve. You have to drive it, and by doing so, you’ll realize that you’re in control.

OJD trumps OJT. It works because it is a model that blurs the lines between on-the-job learning, coaching, and education. It may never become a popular song title, but it will become an effective method for leadership development.


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