Two people holding coffee cups on top of a round table 
Many organizations have yet to realize that there is a leadership talent shortage despite the huge spend that takes place annually on leadership development training.

“Given that some estimates put leadership development spending as high as $50 billion annually, that’s a significant commitment of financial firepower to back up what many see as central to future success. The top priorities for that spend are to grow the succession pipeline, retain high potential employees and foster innovation and creative thinking.”

two men working together on a laptop, laughing.
Are we doing the right things? Do we actually set our future leaders up for failure or for success? 


“But this talent shortage doesn’t exist because employees lack skills. Instead, they lack the necessary training to transform into effective leaders. The LinkedIn study shows that 61 percent of companies do not offer any leadership training, while 66 percent say they are weak when it comes to developing leadership skills among millennials.

Two woman with their back facing the camera, working on a laptop in front of the window.

What is the impact on organizations when our leadership development program isn’t delivering on what it needs to in order to set up our leaders for success?

“And the dearth of leadership training has a negative effect on organizations: The study found that the average company forfeits more than $1 million annually in untapped potential and loses up to 50 percent of productivity because of subpar leadership practices.”

Mentoring is Critical

I have always proclaimed that any good leadership development program must have a mentoring component to it. Mentoring is the glue between taking what you have learned academically, and applying it in a practical setting (on the job). Imagine sitting down with your mentor and dissecting your week and the challenges that you faced.

I have worked with several organizations who are concerned enough about their future that they have included mentoring as a key component of their leadership development. These organizations make it very clear that their objective is to set up new managers for success – and not for failure. The success rate of these mentoring initiatives is 90 to 100%. 

It is truly surprising the depth of understanding that one can uncover with proper mentoring techniques.  And then, with this understanding, to work with the supervisor/manager/executive to map out a strategy to deal with the various challenges they are faced with. Some of those strategies can be relationship building and identifying boundaries (personal vs professional), communicating effectively, critical thinking, crucial conversations and more.

It is interesting to note that a lot of the turmoil that takes place in organizations today is directly related to poor communication. Leaders do not mentally prepare for a crucial conversation and as a result, turn a minor situation into a major one impacting a number of people. 

four men in a conference room reviewing an eraser board with sticky notes attached.  


How to Integrate Mentoring in Leadership Programs

There are several ways to integrate mentoring into your leadership development program/strategy. Mentoring can be done face to face, virtually, or by using a technique referred to as a “mentor circle”. 

A mentoring circle starts with teaching a blend of theories and concepts, which is then followed by a discussion on how we might apply this in a practical setting (on the job). The mentoring circle could operate for an indefinite period of time, or for a fixed period of time. I have been hosting a circle for the past two years, and the growth in leadership abilities that I see in the attendees is impressive. 

If you are in a leadership role — whether it be as a supervisor, manager, or executive – I encourage you to review your organization’s leadership development program to see if mentoring is part of it. If it does not, I recommend you find a mentoring-enriched leadership development program so that you can become one of tomorrow’s exceptional leaders. 


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Doug Lawrence is one of LevellingUp’s Sages and the founder of TalentC®.

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