Do We Care About Leadership?

On a recent plane ride I sat next to the Commander of the NCO Academy at Fort Jackson, South Carolina (see picture from one of last year’s classes). He is a reservist, and had interesting perspectives on how the military operates versus private industry. In his “real life”, he is a sales manager for a pharmaceutical company.
One form of training I fondly recall from my Navy days was Navy Leadership Development school, or NAVLEAD. We have acronyms for EVERYTHING in the military. I have not come across anything like it in my civilian life working with community financial institutions.
The commander, however, worked for a large company and said they do incorporate leadership, management, and supervisory training to employees. He spoke of the company hiring psychologists to develop the curriculum and provide instruction, and actors to do role playing.
When we talk of the cost of regulation, we often think of cutting back on number of personnel, technology, and branching to bridge the profit gap. But one fatality is likely to be personnel development. Community FIs do not have large training budgets to prepare future leaders to take the next step, to manage, to supervise, to lead.
Aside from the cost, part of the reason may be our attitude towards “soft” disciplines such as leadership and supervision. We promote top performers and assume they can also take on additional responsibilities, such as employee coaching, without effort. But in my experience, this is not so. Prior to me taking the NAVLEAD course, I will put to you that I was ill prepared for such a large responsibility of leading other sailors.
The Navy understood this, and prepared me to succeed so I may prepare those under my charge to succeed. See a portion of a 2006 message sent by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) as to the importance of leadership development to the effectiveness of our Navy. I do find it interesting that these Navy dispatches look very much like the ones I recall over 20 years ago.
In an era of uncertainty, increased regulation, and competitive pressure, do we have the foundation to lead us into the future? When I write foundation, what does it mean to you? Does it mean the technological infrastructure, the branch footprint, or the special niche? Or can it also mean that we are developing the type of leaders that ensures those under their charge are performing to their potential?
If people are important to your FIs success, what are you doing to develop your people?
~ Jeff