An article in today's Wall Street Journal caught my eye. It describes a shift in the source and scope of training many firms provide for their leaders. With the tightening economic conditions, many companies are looking to increase efficiencies and reduce the costs of training. These firms are moving away from sending executives and leaders to expensive external programs, especially those executive education programs provided universities provide, in favor of bringing the experts in-house to provide customized training specific to their needs. Read the article here.
I am encouraged by this shift. It's much smarter than the other option: cut all education. Smart companies will realize that although we all need to look for ways to tighten the budget and remove excesses, the knee-jerk reaction of throwing the baby out with the bath-water will backfire big time. Pulling the plug on leadership education will leave leaders unsupported and unprepared to deal effectively with the many changes that are occurring in the workplace. This, in turn, will bring all kinds of trouble - from unproductive behaviors, worsening team cohesion, and reduced ability to deliver on their goals, all the way to lower morale and even possibly to an exodus of key players who will become too frustrated to stay.
Consultants provide the expertise and have the experience and time that internal employees often lack, to provide specific, customized training and organization development solutions companies need in a flexible, timely manner. They can be more effective than off-the-shelf, generic programs offered by B-Schools and Big Training House programs that can be found in every city because they can focus on the particular culture and challenges of the company's leaders. Yet they can provide the objective, honest observer perspective that internal employees often are unable or uncomfortable to provide.