Grow And Sustain

This post is taken from the webinar Fast Track Your Leaders’ Growth with Matt Paese.


Great leaders, ready now. It’s what every business needs. And what most are unable to achieve. The evidence is clear – across the globe investments in leadership are rising, while leadership readiness is falling short. Something is clearly missing, but what is it? There are six steps to making the most of your leadership training: commit, aim, invest, assess, grow, and sustain. Once a business has committed to their training strategy, aimed towards goals that fulfill that, invested in the plan, and assessed for success, they can now focus on growing and sustaining those ends.


What if I said that learning doesn’t matter?  Or that training doesn’t do anything important?  You might think I’m crazy.  But when it comes to accelerating leadership readiness, both of those statements are actually true – at least partly.  Here’s why…

There’s a critical difference between learning and growth.  To be clear, learning is certainly important.  It provides new insights, knowledge, and perhaps a chance to try out new leadership approaches.  But guess what: On average, 20 minutes after a formal learning event, 40% of the content is forgotten. By the end of the week, 75% is gone. 

But it doesn’t have to end up that way. 

Here’s the thing: Growth happens when leaders integrate what they learn into how they lead.  Training or coaching or any other formal learning only matters when leaders take what they have learned and use it to address the challenges they are facing in the workplace.

That means that if your goal is to generate more leaders ready now, it’s dangerous to settle for learning.  The only satisfactory outcome is growth. 

The GROW section of Leaders Ready Now will help you prevent forgetting by showing what some companies are doing to generate a new brand of energy that sparks growth in their organizations.  How do they do it? 

  • By personalizing learning pathways that lead to mastery more quickly.
  • By helping leaders embrace their unique personalities and avoid the negative patterns that some characteristics cause. 
  • By creating powerful developmental assignments that stretch leaders into just the right experiences for their individual development needs.
  • And they do all this, not just one leader at a time, but for entire cadres of leaders who learn, and grow, together – sparking tremendous energy and excitement for everyone involved.  And THAT leads to rapid, widespread growth.



Most of us know that it’s one thing to show up at the gym to exercise, and another thing to turn that single workout into a routine that becomes part of a lifestyle.  Accelerating leadership growth works like that. 

You may have found in your own work in growing leaders that simply installing one system component like a talent review or an assessment system can be a great deal of effort all by itself.  So how is it that some organizations are managing to not only install solid system components, but sustain them, and make the growth of leadership a permanent aspect of how they operate?

The secret, once again, is energy.  Remember, rapid learning generates energy – excitement and some fear – and you can manufacture it in your organization.  In the SUSTAIN section of Leaders Ready Now, we share how. 

Keeping the fire of growth and development burning bright requires a combination of tactics and mindset.  For example, you might need to adjust your metrics of accelerated growth, but you also might need to confront your organization’s beliefs about what it means to be “ready”. 

The truth is, no one can ever be totally ready for the complex world we live in.  So the only viable way to respond is to always be preparing.  The SUSTAIN section of Leaders Ready Now illustrates how you can combine your processes and tactics with the right management orientation to growth, so that your efforts outlast you, and everyone else in your organization, and become an integral part of your cultural DNA.


Matthew J. Paese, Ph.D., is Vice President of Succession and C-Suite Services for Development Dimensions International (DDI). Matt’s work has centered on the application of succession, assessment, and development approaches as they apply to boards, CEOs, senior management teams, and leaders across the pipeline. He consults, coaches, speaks, and conducts research around all those topics and more.

Audrey B. Smith, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President for Global Talent Diagnostics at DDI. Audrey’s customer-driven innovation and global consulting insights have helped shape DDI’s succession, selection, and development offerings, from the C-suite to the front line. She has been a key strategist and solution architect, encompassing technology-enabled virtual assessments and development aligned to current business challenges.

William C. Byham, Ph.D., is Executive Chairman of DDI. He cofounded the company in 1970 and has worked with hundreds of the world’s largest organizations on executive assessment, executive development, and succession management. Bill authored Zapp!® The Lightning of Empowerment, a groundbreaking book that has sold more than 3 million copies. He has coauthored 23 other books, including seminal works on the assessment center method.

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I help successful people become amazing. I am a Leadership/Executive Coach, Consultant, and Advisor. Founder of the Lead With Giants™ Community and the #LeadWithGiants™ Tweet Chat. I love to Connect, Engage, Serve, Learn, and Lead. Please find me on Twitter @DanVForbes or at

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