Choices. We all have the ability to make them. It is one of the greatest things about living in this country. We get to decide the choices we make. Granted, for every choice we make, an outcome to our decision inevitably follows.

For example, as soon as I defined my childhood dream of becoming a professional football player, every choice I made, intentional or not, would affect the chances of me accomplishing my goal. As a kid, I chose to make certain sacrifices in order to give myself a better opportunity to achieve my goal. Although these sacrifices didn’t guarantee goal fulfillment, they gave me a better chance to succeed. It was my choice to dedicate every aspect of my life to this goal. And to this day, I continue to believe that the better the choices you make investing in your goals, the greater the opportunity you give yourself to succeed.

Now, I realize not everyone has this mentality. I know there are plenty of instances where people have achieved their goals by taking shortcuts. In my experience, however, I think there are enough uncontrollable barriers in the way of any goal, large or small, and that you if you have the ability to control anything in the pursuit of a goal, it can be the choices you make.

These personal insights bring me to this. In my day-to-day interactions with executives around the country, I hear a consistent message. It is a message of frustration. Frustration caused by their organization’s inability to find effective ways to attract, develop, and retain young, high-potential talent.

As an executive, owner, or boss, the choices you make, especially when it comes to attracting, developing, and retaining high-potential talent, will undoubtedly be reflected in your success, or lack thereof. Apart from the basic fundamentals of running the business and the P&L sheet, growth and sustainability are important key factors to any business’s success. No doubt about it. But consider this: The growth of a company and the momentum that company carries are all leading indicators of the talent that is intentionally being developed.

Leaders make choices. Some choose to not capitalize on their talent or invest in intentional development. They reassure themselves by thinking, “This isn’t the way we did it when I was young.” Then there are the leaders in today’s workforce that truly believe they are investing in their talent when they are really just checking a box and justifying a decision.

Leaders are making choices now that will drastically impact and affect their organizations in the future. They are turning a blind eye to a significant problem in today’s workforce. And that problem will come full circle as the tenured, key members of their company retire and they are left with new leaders that have not been taught how to lead, let alone manage.

At Solutions 21, we see leaders negate the importance of customized intentional leadership development, consciously or not. Developing future leaders is a process that takes time and commitment. Using an unintentional, generic program will leave you with a pool of talented folks who aren’t ready for prime time. As one of my mentors once told me, “If you think development is time-consuming and expensive, you don’t want to see what ignorance costs you.”

Now, I am not guaranteeing you that investing in developing your talent is a cure all. I am simply saying that the choices you make now are going to tell your story in the future. And maybe we need to look at the bigger picture. The picture that is telling us that 20th-century tactics for leadership development in a 21st-century workforce isn’t working.

If we are objective enough to look in the mirror and evaluate the things that matter, then it is time to be realistic with ourselves. There is nothing more important to a team or business than your development program. How are you evaluating it? Is it working? How do you know?

The choice’s we make now will be the difference for years to come. What will be the outcome to your choices?