Making the decision to invest in a CEO’s development can be tricky. When resources are scarce or performance is generally fair to good, it can be tempting to settle for the status quo. Unfortunately, that decision can bring dire consequences.

Stagnation.  In the absence of a clear wake-up call, the CEO will likely continue to provide OK leadership. Even clear direction from a board of directors to “shape up” isn’t enough. Under-performing leaders also need a profound boost in self-awareness and a disciplined way to build new capabilities. Otherwise, expect more of the same.

Collateral damage. Your organization’s good name is at stake. If you allow questionable leaders to continue, it says something about the organization’s values and commitment to its mission. Your reputation is sullied, key relationships are damaged, and great people leave the organization. When you do finally get around to dealing with (or replacing)  the CEO, the job is now much, much bigger.

It’s true that nobody’s perfect, and all leaders are flawed. Even highly effective leaders can amplify performance by investing in their development  When it comes to under-performance at the top, settling for uninspired leadership isn’t the answer. Maybe the organization can’t afford an exclusive executive development program immediately. But do invest in the CEO’s leadership growth if real issues exist – or make a transition plan to prevent a crisis in the future.