SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Leadership development firm Zenger Folkman's recent study of a Silicon Valley software firm reveals companies are waiting too long to begin leadership programs. After spending much time, money, and effort in developing leaders when asked about the one thing they would do differently in the future, they replied, "We'd begin this earlier in people's careers."
Why don't companies start leadership development earlier in people's careers? In their recently published Harvard Business Review blog and upcoming webinar, Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman, explained that after analyzing 17,000 leaders it was, "no surprise to discover that the average age of all participants was 42." Less than 5 percent of all participants were under 27 years of age and only 10 percent were under the age of 30.
"Think of the advantage to be gained by this person beginning some formal leadership development activity at an earlier age, rather than waiting for nearly a decade to begin," Zenger said. "Prior research has shown that less than 10 percent of leaders, left to their own devices, will have any personal plan of development without the encouragement of some formalized process sponsored by their company."
There are many reasons why leadership development started earlier can benefit companies. It just makes sense because employees can:
1. Learn more easily at a young age
2. Avoid acquiring bad habits
3. Enjoy a longer time to practice
4. Benefit the organization with their improved skills
5. Enjoy success earlier
What can companies do to start making this change? Start focusing more on Gen Y.
"Today we are devoting roughly three-fourths of our development effort to Gen X and 20 percent on Gen Y," Zenger said. "We concur with our colleague from the Silicon Valley software firm—we would be wise to invest more in the development of the Gen Y group."
Why the investment disparity? One of the stereotypes we have about the youngest generation is that they are more focused on themselves and less focused on company objectives. After analyzing the data on these different groups we learned that the Gen Y group had the highest scores when it came to driving for results and practicing self-development. This contradicts the image of complacent know-it-alls that is held by some.
To learn more, register for a webinar, Investing in Leadership Development: Are we waiting too long to start?, with Jack Zenger on Feb. 27, 2013. For more information on these findings, and how to incorporate them into a leadership development plan, visit www.zengerfolkman.com.
Zenger Folkman is the authority in strengths-based leadership development. Their award-winning programs employ research-based methods that improve organizations and turn good managers into extraordinary leaders.
SOURCE Zenger Folkman