During last week’s webinar, 71% of participants indicated that they have not participated in an experiential leadership development program. Unfortunately, taking advantage of leadership development opportunities has become an exception, rather than a practice, for the public sector workforce. The benefits of experiential leadership development programs have been well documented over the years and agency leaders reinforce the importance of such experiences, but mostly through dialogue alone. The aforementioned survey data point is a poignant illustration of the gap in theory and practice that is occurring in current government work environments.
In terms of implementation, experiential leadership development programs are diverse. Ideally, the program designer and the learner collaborate to determine objectives. In addition, the means of achieving these objectives are vast. Development programs of this nature can be efficient in terms of time and resources and, without equivocation, valuable leadership development experiences.
What accounts for the high rates of public sector employees that have never participated in an experiential leadership development program? Some possibilities to consider are budget constraints or a lack of experiential leadership development opportunities offered at an agency. Historically, federal leaders are notorious for being unwilling to let their employees participate in development programs that will interfere with their ability to work on current urgent matters. On a different note, could it be that while many officials articulate the importance of leadership development at their agency, it is not actually part of their culture? Perhaps employees themselves do not see the value yet of experiential leadership development programs and do not seek out such opportunities?
Those are just a few possible explanations. For those that have never had an opportunity to participate in an experiential leadership development program, what has been your experience?