A senior manager recently contacted us about business acumen training. Professionals of this rank and title contact us frequently, so I naturally started wondering about the audience she was looking to have trained. I hypothesized some typical groups. Would it be for first-time managers? New hires? High-potentials? Client-facing professionals? A mid-level managers Leadership Essentials program?
I’ve heard about a phenomenon that happens to individuals that have been in sales a long time. They start to make assumptions before they speak to the prospect. I pride myself in keeping an open mind – had I not considered multiple audiences? Alas, my mind wasn’t quite open enough.
This woman with 10 years of tenure, who looks at financial statements every single day, was searching out training for herself. On her company’s growth continuum, a committee had identified business acumen as an area for her to improve in before she became an executive in the next 1 to 2 years.
At Paradigm Learning, we are considered business acumen experts. It’s rare I have to tell someone I can’t help them fill their financial knowledge gaps. We train critical masses, though, so I had to thank her for her interest and wish her luck in her search.
The more I reflect on that conversation, the more I feel this business acumen gap should have been identified and filled sooner. According to this Harvard Business Review article, the average age of individuals in their leadership training program was 42, while the average age of supervisors is 33. This group was also left untrained for almost a decade.
Most of the organizations we work with have leadership development programs for different management levels and probably 90% of those have a financial component. This call with the senior manager facilitated an ah-ha moment for me. We need to train our leaders from when they are high-potential individual contributors (or at least first-time managers) so we don’t have a business acumen gap on our hands 10 years later.