Leadership Development

Sections of this topic

    Introduction to Leadership Development

    What is meant by leadership development? In this blog entry leadership development will be discussed as processes for the development of leadership capabilities within organizations. This particular submission will focus its overview of leadership development on current trends in the for-profit sector. The primary reason for limiting my entry to the business realm is because it’s what I know best. Also, there will be plenty of opportunities to converse on how leadership development practices are employed in other domains, such as academia, government, and non-governmental organizations. And I invite others to share their experience of this discipline in other contexts. I imagine my co-host Julia will likely have some thoughts on leadership development in the non-profit sector.

    Leadership Development Design

    The following suggestions are high-level and extremely simplified for the sake of some blog brevity. The design of a leadership development process is slightly more involved than what the following summary might suggest. To start, the design requires an in-depth analysis of the leadership qualities and capabilities an organization requires, now and in the future. These requirements include an understanding of the culture and the type of leaders that tend to thrive in that particular environment. It also involves developing clarity on desired business outcomes and the qualities that an organization anticipates will be required of its leaders to drive these outcomes. Once the desired qualities and capabilities (often classified into competencies) are confirmed, the appropriate leadership development systems and tools can be selected. The majority of leadership development programs include some, if not all, of the following components: mentoring, coaching, assessment, action learning, instruction, and the use of internal leaders as instructors. There also is a notable effort being placed on the design of leadership development processes that are more interactive, integrated, globally oriented, and leverage social media technology. These components will be presented in detail in future installments. In the meantime, it would be fitting if anyone wanted to comment on or add to this list.

    Keys to Success

    In many ways, the key to the design of an effective leadership development process is to ensure alignment with the organization’s culture, strategic direction, and the business initiatives considered most critical to future success. Some people might be put off by my not placing more emphasis on individual self-actualization, leadership ethics, and having a positive influence on the world at large. My hope, and intent, is that any development process shall contribute to personal growth (if not transformation), ethical decision-making, and a socially responsible outlook. However, the best way to ensure wide-based support and the necessary resources to implement and maintain effective leadership development initiatives is to establish a clear cultural fit and correlation with business imperatives. To this end, there has been a concerted effort in recent years to integrate leadership development into human capital systems and develop methods for measuring the impact of the processes on different levels of the business. Of course, the evaluation of impact remains a highly desired, challenging, and somewhat elusive goal for most organizations. The measurement of leadership practices on the bottom line (triple or otherwise) will be discussed further shortly on this site. But if anyone has any noteworthy perspectives on the topic, feel free to chime in now.