The title of this HBR blog post caught my eye. "We wait too long to train our leaders." Author Jack Zenger says companies allow the establishment of "bad habits" when they expect their supervisors to lead without adequate training. He says, "Practicing anything mildly important, like say skiing or golf, without training is inadvisable. The fact that so many of your managers are practicing leadership without training should alarm you."
This is a cogent point for professional- and business service firms, whose marketers typically have to cobble together their knowledge of services marketing. Most have had no exposure, either, to the best practices of managing and growing a services business.
Professional services companies know they must grow their people's skills in order to compete more effectively. Many have begun focusing on training their leading client-facing practitioners, although in a silo'ed, "single-sector" way. Zenger says they must start earlier in the leadership pipeline, and I agree.
But PSFs and B2B service firms must also develop their marketing team members too. The costs of insularity (not exposing these future leaders to the wealth of knowledge that's available in other professions) and allowing people to become ingrained in "bad habits" are simply too high.
That's why I'm partnering with the Center for Excellence in Service at the R.H. Smith School of Business to build the first-ever cross-sector Professional Services Leadership Initiative (PSLI).
In my next several posts, I'll outline more details, and I'll write more about why I think cross-sector skills growth is such an important issue.