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The concept of completing a gap analysis is very straight forward, and is one of the major steps required prior to designing a leadership development program uniquely suited for your organization.  Visualize one side of a canyon as the place where you want to be.  Your ideal organization filled with leaders at every level who have the skills, competencies, knowledge, and ability to perfectly implement every aspect of leadership that is required to accelerate, grow, and sustain your business.

On the other side of the canyon, where you are standing and gazing across at the ideal vision of where you want to be, is your current state of leadership in your organization.  There are some highlights, ridges, escarpments, and promontories created by your most capable leaders in the organization.  There are some nooks, crannies, caves and low lying area at the foot of the canyon dug by those individuals you know are not exhibiting the leadership required. But most of your staff members at any level are just busy taking care of their day-to-day work, would love to grow and develop in the direction of the ideal vision, yet may not make the time for it, or may not know what to do in order to make progress.

The gap, of course is the space between where your organization is today in terms of leadership potential, and where you want to be in the future.  Identifying this gap is not difficult, but often requires pausing, reflecting, forecasting future conditions and needs, and gaining understanding of the current and desired future states.  Two mistakes I often see in my coaching and leadership development consulting practice are:

  1. Jumping straight into designing a leadership development program before completing a gap analysis; and
  2. Providing leadership training and development that does not align in order to connect where you are today to where you need to be in the future.

The first key above is based on many companies who want to create a leadership development program, yet don’t want to take the time to determine what organizational performance or leadership skills they want to develop in their staff members.  These organizations are looking for an inexpensive turnkey program simply to have a program in place.  They probably don’t measure organizational performance, don’t understand how the leadership development program can help them achieve higher performance, or don’t want to invest in analysis versus tangible activities (such as seeing a class being taught).  The face-time or activity of having a leadership development program is more important to these companies than the long-term, strategic, performance of the organization.  For companies with this attitude quantity is usually valued over quality. Helping these organizations understand the long-term benefits of completing the analysis first is a key to success.

The second key is based on companies who may have a good vision of what is needed in future leaders, and they have made the commitment to grow and develop high potentials, so begin designing a leadership development program.  The program may be pieced together from off-the-shelf courses, seminars, webinars, training programs sold by trainers or speakers on topics that are popular or recommended by others for their entertainment and inspiration content.  In these situations, leadership training is desired, identified as necessary, and invested in.  However,  the course, workshops, seminars, computer-based training, and speakers who are brought in piece-meal are not specifically aligned with the vision of those key leadership competencies that were originally determined way back at the beginning of the gap analysis process.  To ensure this trap is avoided, one contact person within an organization should be responsible for stewardship of the program.  This individual needs to have the understanding of the desired leadership outcomes, and should be tasked with working with any outside consultants, trainers, educators, speakers or providers of learning materials in order to ensure the programs delivered line up with the vision.