Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Leadership Development:

Leadership Development:
Past, Present, and Future
This article reviews notable
trends in the leadership
development field. In the
past two decades, such
trends included the proliferation
of new leadership development methods
and a growing recognition of the
importance of a leader’s emotional
resonance with others. A growing
recognition that leadership development
involves more than just developing
individual leaders has now led
to a greater focus on the context in
which leadership is developed,
thoughtful consideration about how
to best use leadership competencies,
and work/life balance issues. Future
trends include exciting potential
advances in globalization, technology,
return on investment (ROI),
and new ways of thinking about
the nature of leadership and leadership
The Past
Looking back at the state of leadership and
leadership development over the past 20 years,
we were surprised to discover more than a
decade passed before HRP first contained an
article with the word “leadership” in its title. At
the risk of making too much out of mere titles,
we note with interest the contrast between that
early period and the fact that leadership development
is now one of HRP’s five key knowledge
areas. The last two decades have witnessed
something of an explosion of interest in leadership
development in organizations. Some of the
most noteworthy issues and trends in the field
of leadership development in the past 20 years
fall under these two general headings:
1. The proliferation of leadership development
2. The importance of a leader’s emotional resonance
with and impact on others.
Proliferation of Leadership
Development Methods
One clear trend over the past 20
years has been the increasing use
and recognition of the potency of a
variety of developmental experiences.
Classroom-type leadership
training—for long the primary formal
development mode—is now complemented
(or even supplanted) by
activities as diverse as high ropes
courses or reflective journaling.
Classroom training should not be
the only part of a leadership development
initiative, and may be the least critical.
While training may even be a necessary element
of leadership development, developmental experiences
are likely to have the greatest impact when
they can be linked to or embedded in a person’s
ongoing work and when they are an integrated set
of experiences. Activities like coaching, mentoring,
action learning, and 360-degree feedback are
increasingly key elements of leadership development
Developmental relationships primarily take
two forms: coaching and mentoring. Coaching
involves practical, goal-focused forms of oneon-
one learning and, ideally, behavioral change
(Hall, et al., 1999). It can be a short-term intervention
intended to develop specific leadership
skills or a more extensive process involving a
series of meetings over time. The most effective
coaching allows for collaboration to assess and
understand the developmental task to challenge
current constraints while exploring new possibilities,
and to ensure accountability and support for
reaching goals and sustaining development (Ting
& Hart, 2004). Mentoring is typically defined as
a committed, long-term relationship in which a
senior person supports the personal and professional
development of a junior person. It may
be a formal program or a much more informal
process. Recognizing the value of mentoring,
organizations are increasingly looking at ways to
formalize these types of relationships as part of
their leadership development efforts.
Action learning is a set of organization development
practices in which important real-time
organizational problems are tackled. Three kinds
of objectives are sought: delivering measurable
organizational results, communicating learnings
specific to a particular context, and developing
more general leadership skills and capabilities
(Palus & Horth, 2003). Effective action learning
may range from tacit, unfacilitated learning at
work to focused and high-impact learning projects
to transformations of people
and organizations (Marsick, 2002).
Challenging job assignments are a
potent form of leadership development
and provide many of the developmental
opportunities in organizations
today. The level of organizational
involvement in making job assignments
part of their leadership development
process runs the gamut
from simply providing people with
information about developmental
opportunities in their current job to a systematic
program of job rotation. Using job assignments
for developmental purposes provides benefits
that go beyond getting the job done and may
even result in competitive advantages for the
organization (Ohlott, 2004).
One developmental method has been so pervasive
that it deserves somewhat greater attention
here: the use of 360-degree feedback to assess
leader competencies. Chappelow (2004) recently
noted that perhaps the most remarkable trend in
the field of leader development over the past 20
years has been the popularity and growth of 360-
degree feedback. Others called it one of the most
notable management innovations of the past
decade (Atwater & Waldman, 1998; London &
Beatty, 1993). To help those organizations disappointed
with 360-degree feedback results, here is some of what we have learned over the years
about how to implement them effectively
(Chappelow, 2004):
1. An assessment activity is not necessarily
developmental. Three-hundred-sixty-degree
feedback should not be a stand-alone event. In
addition to assessment there need to be development
planning and follow-up activities.
2. Boss support is critical for the process itself,
as well as for buy-in for the recipient’s
specific developmental goals stemming
from the feedback.
3. The 360-degree feedback process works best
if it starts with executives at the top of an
organization and cascades downward throughout
the organization.
4. Shoddy administration of a 360-degree feedback
process can be fatal.
5. The timing of the process accounts for other
organizational realities that could dilute or
confound its impact.
Another kind of leadership development
method gaining popularity during the
past 20 years has involved teams
(Ginnett, 1990). The prevalence and
importance of teams in organizations
today, and the unique challenges of
leading teams, make it easy to forget
that teams were not always so pervasive
a part of our organizational lives.
One way to convey the magnitude of
that shift is to share an anecdote
involving one of our colleagues.
During his doctoral work in organizational
behavior at Yale about 20 years
ago, our colleague Robert Ginnett
would tell others about his special
interest in the leadership of teams. Routinely, he
says, they would assume he must be an athletic
coach; who else, they’d say, would be interested
in teams?
Importance of a Leader s
Emotional Resonance with
and Impact on Others
Twenty years ago, our understanding of leadership
in organizations was dominated by the
classic two-factor approach focusing on task and
relationship behaviors. That general approach
can be characterized as transactional in nature,
as distinguished from a qualitatively different
approach often described as transformational.
Transactional leadership is characterized by
mutually beneficial exchanges between parties
to optimize mutual benefit including the accomplishment
of necessary organizational tasks. The
exchange-model nature of transactional leadership
tends to produce predictable and somewhat shortlived
outcomes. Transformational leadership
touched followers’ deeper values and sense of
higher purpose, and led to higher levels of follower
commitment and effort and more enduring
change. Transformational leaders provide compelling
visions of a better future and inspire trust
through seemingly unshakeable self-confidence
and conviction.
Conger (1999) reviewed 15 years’ research in
the related fields of charismatic and transformational
leadership, and observed that scholarly
interest in these areas may be traceable to changes
in the global competitive business environment at
that time such as competitive pressures to reinvent
themselves and challenges to employee
commitment. Prior to that time, leadership
researchers generally had not distinguished
between the roles of leading and managing: A
person in any position of authority
was largely assumed to hold a leadership
role. It was a novel idea that
leadership and management might
represent different kinds of roles and
behaviors. Hunt (1999) was even
more blunt about the state of scholarly
research in the field of leadership
in the 1980s. He described it as a
gloom-and-doom period characterized
by boring work, inconsequential
questions, and static answers.
Research in the areas of transformational
and charismatic leadership both
energized scholars and interested
organizational practitioners.
One factor presumably underlying the interest
in charismatic and transformational leaders is the
nature and strength of their emotional impact on
others. The nature of the leader’s emotional connectedness
to others is also apparent in the growing
interest over the past decade in topics like the
leader’s genuineness, authenticity, credibility, and
trustworthiness (Goleman, et al., 2002; Collins,
2001). These seem related more to the affective
quality of a leader’s relationships with others than
to specific leader behaviors and competencies.
Attention given during the last decade to the concept
of emotional intelligence also attests to that
shifting interest. For example, Goleman, et al.
(2002) present data that a leader’s ability to resonate emotionally with others is a better
predictor of effective executive leadership than
is general intelligence. Recent research at the
Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) has uncovered
links between specific elements of emotional
intelligence and specific behaviors associated
with leadership effectiveness (Ruderman, et al.,
2001). Effective leadership is clearly about more
than just enacting the “right” behaviors, or merely
translating feedback (e.g., from 360-degree feedback)
into changed behavior. One way 360-
degree feedback can positively impact an individual’s
effectiveness as a leader is by deepening
that person’s self-awareness about the impact of
his/her behavior on others.
Much leadership development feedback naturally
affects how people think about themselves,
not just their interactions with others. Similarly,
it can lead to re-evaluations of many aspects of
one’s life, not just one’s role as a leader. It can
affect the whole person. It follows, then, that in
some ways leadership development itself involves
the development of the whole person. The Center
for Creative Leadership began during the heyday
of the human potential movement, and its ideals
and educational philosophy still reflect a commitment
to the value of self-directed change
and growth (albeit informed by knowledge
about the needs of the organization). Virtually
all CCL leadership development programs
include numerous activities to increase managerial
self-awareness, and most address balance in
life, including the relationship between health,
fitness, and leadership. From our own participants,
representing diverse companies across
virtually all industries, the feedback is that balance
in life has so far been more of an aspiration
for them than a reality.
The Present
Today, effective leadership is commonly
viewed as central to organizational success, and
more importance is placed on leadership development
than ever before. Developing “more and
better” individual leaders is no longer the sole
focus of leadership development, although it
remains a critical aspect. Increasingly, leadership
is defined not as what the leader does but rather
as a process that engenders and is the result of
relationships—relationships that focus on the
interactions of both leaders and collaborators
instead of focusing on only the competencies of
the leaders. Leadership development practices based on this paradigm are more difficult to
design and implement than those that have been
popular for the last several decades in which the
objective was to train leaders to be good managers.
In light of this, several themes describe
the state of leadership development today:
1. Leadership development increasingly occurring
within the context of work;
2. Critical reflection about the role of competencies
in leadership development;
3. Revisiting the issue of work/life balance.
Leadership Development Within the
Context of Work
Leadership development initiatives today typically
offer performance support and real world
application of skills through such methods as
training programs, coaching and mentoring,
action learning, and developmental assignments.
Combining instruction with a real business setting
helps people gain crucial skills and allows the
organizations to attack relevant, crucial, real-time
issues. The goal of leadership development ultimately
involves action not knowledge.
Therefore, development today means providing
people opportunities to learn from their work
rather than taking them away from their work to
learn. It is critical to integrate those experiences
with each other and with other developmental
methods. State of the art leadership development
now occurs in the context of ongoing work initiatives
that are tied to strategic business imperatives
(Dotlich & Noel, 1998; Moxley & O’Connnor
Wison, 1998).
Furthermore, best practice organizations recognize
leadership as a key component of jobs at
all levels and are committed to creating leaders
throughout their organizations. Increasingly,
organizations have CEOs who model leadership
development through a strong commitment to
teach leaders internally. For example, Carly
Fiorina at HP is annually teaching at 12 leading
business results classes. The targets of leadership
training programs are no longer relatively isolated
individuals who were “anointed” by senior
management. Instead of the thin horizontal
slices, the program design is likely to involve
work groups or several vertical slices of the
organization (Fulmer, 1997).
The proliferation of leadership development
methods was previously noted. Not just the variety
of development methods matters; greater
variety is not necessarily better. It is also critical to integrate various developmental experiences
to each other as well as to both developmental
and business objectives. That way they can have
a greater collective impact than they otherwise
could have. But such efforts at integration are
far from universal.
In reviewing the entire field of leadership
development, McCauley and VanVelsor (2003)
noted that the approach of many organizations is
events-based rather than systemic. One method
of making leadership development more systemic
is to make sure it involves more than training.
An array of developmental experiences must be
designed and implemented that are meaningfully
integrated with one another.
Leadership development efforts and
initiatives must be ongoing, not a
single program or event. The idea
of leadership development strategies
that link a variety of developmental
practices including work itself (e.g.,
action learning projects) with other
HR systems and business strategy is
an emerging and probably necessary
evolution of our state-of-practice
(Alldredge, et al., 2003).
Critical Reflection about the
Role of Competencies in
Leadership Development
Although the field is moving away from
viewing leadership and leadership development
solely in terms of leader attributes, skills, and
traits, leadership competencies remain a core
dimension of leadership development activities
in most organizations. A recent benchmarking
study found that leading-edge companies define
leadership by a set of competencies that guide
leadership development at all levels (Barrett &
Beeson, 2002). A majority of organizations have
identified leadership competencies, or at least
tried to define the characteristics and qualities
of successful leaders. How then are leadership
competencies most effectively used in leadership
Leadership competencies need to correspond
to the organization’s particular strategy and business
model (Intagliata, et al., 2000). Leadership
development programs implemented in isolation
of the business environment rarely bring about
profound or long-lasting changes; therefore,
organizations must develop leaders and leadership
competencies that correspond with and are
specific to their distinct business challenges and
goals. While common leadership qualities or
competencies characterize effective leaders,
developing such core leader qualities may not
be enough. The leadership competencies of a
best-practice organization uniquely fit the organization,
its particular strategy, and its business
model (APQC, 2000).
This perspective has also been applied to the
individual level. Not only may organizations
differ in their identification of critical leadership
competencies, some would argue it is unlikely all
leaders within an organization must all possess
the same set of competencies to be successful—
or make the organization successful.
According to this perspective, leaders
should not be accountable for
demonstrating a particular set of
behaviors but rather should be held
accountable for desired outcomes.
This perspective looks beyond competencies,
which have a tendency to
focus on “what needs fixing,” and
instead focuses attention on the
whole person and on peoples’
strengths and natural talents, not on
a reductionist list of idiosyncratic
competencies (Buckingham &
Vosburgh, 2003). Development is
increasingly seen as a process of developing and
leveraging strengths and of understanding and
minimizing the impact of weaknesses.
Work/Life Balance Revisited
Health and well-being at work are issues of
increasing interest and attention, including their
relevance to leadership. In an environment of
constant change and unrelenting competition,
managing stress and personal renewal to avoid
burn-out are becoming a central focus for leadership
development. Dealing with multiple and
competing demands of a fast-paced career and
personal/family relationships and responsibilities
is a common challenge, and there is increasing
recognition that a person’s work and personal
life have reciprocal effects on each other. We
know that individual leader effectiveness is
enhanced when people manage multiple roles at
home and at work but we continue to learn more
about the organizational benefits and maybe even
the benefits to family and community as well.
We also know leadership effectiveness is correlated
with better health and exercising (McDowell-Larsen, et al., 2002). We need to
better understand which assumptions about
organizational life are challenged by the idea of
work/life integration as well as which changes
organizations need to make to facilitate greater
work/life integration.
Challenging work/life situations are integrally
related to the need for, and development of,
resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce
back from adversity or hardship, a characteristic
that can be developed at any time during a person’s
life. It is an active process of self-righting
and growth that helps people deal with hardships
in a manner that is conducive to development
(Moxley & Pulley, 2004). One of the fundamental
characteristics of resilience is that it allows
individuals to take difficult experiences in their
lives and use them as opportunities to learn.
This, in turn, develops their ability to face hardships
successfully in the future.
The Future
Several trends will have a major role in our
future understanding and practice of leadership and
leadership development. They represent, in different
ways, the critical role changing contexts will
play in leadership development.
1. Leadership competencies will still matter;
2. Globalization/internationalization of leadership
concepts, constructs, and development
3. The role of technology;
4. Increasing interest in the integrity and character
of leaders;
5. Pressure to demonstrate return on investment;
6. New ways of thinking about the nature of
leadership and leadership development.
Leadership Competencies Will Still
Leadership competencies will still matter, but
they will change as the competitive environment
changes. According to a Conference Board study
(Barrett & Beeson, 2002), five critical forces will
shape leadership competencies (requirements) in
the future: 1) global competition, 2) information
technology, 3) the need for rapid and flexible
organizations, 4) teams, and 5) differing employee
needs. Given these, most organizations will not
need the “Lone Ranger” type of leader as much
as a leader who can motivate and coordinate a
team-based approach. This new environment will
have greater ambiguity and uncertainty, and many
if not all aspects of leadership (e.g., strategy
development) will require a more collaborative
approach to leadership. The model of effective
leadership in the future will be one of encouraging
environments that unlock the entire organization’s
human asset potential.
The Conference Board report “Developing
Business Leaders for 2010” (Barrett & Beeson,
2002) identified four essential roles for meeting
the business challenges of the future, and the
career derailers that will matter most in the
future. The four essential roles for meeting future
business challenges include master strategist,
change manager, relationship/network builder,
and talent developer. The most important derailers
in the future include hesitancy to take necessary
business risks; personal arrogance and insensitivity;
controlling leadership style; and reluctance
to tackle difficult people issues.
Changes in the context in which leadership is
practiced will bring certain competencies even
more to the forefront, including globalization, the
increasing use of technology, and public scrutiny
of the character and integrity of leaders.
Globalization/Internationalization of
Leadership Concepts, Constructs,
and Development Methods
Future leaders will need to be conversant in
doing business internationally and conceiving
strategies on a global basis. Globalization will
intensify the requirement that senior leaders deal
effectively with a complex set of constituencies
external to the organization. (e.g., responsibility
for managing the company’s interface with trade,
regulatory, political, and media groups on a wide
range of issues).
Leadership development is rapidly moving to
include substantial components involving international
markets, world economic trends, and focus
on particular regions such as the Asia Pacific rim
(Cacioppe, 1998). Leaders are being exposed to
how the world is becoming interdependent and
the need to be up to date with international trends
that are vital to the success of the business. Use
of the internet to obtain information and to market
products and services worldwide is a topic in
many current leadership development programs.
The Role of Technology
The technology revolution has changed organizational
life. It has changed the ways information
and knowledge are accessed and disseminated, and
the ways in which people can communicate and share with one another. This has profound implications
for what effective leadership will look
like as well as how to use technology most effectively
in leadership development.
Leaders will clearly have to be much more
savvy with regard to technology in general.
Facility and comfort with communication technology
and the internet will be a necessity. Given
the pace of change and the speed of response
time that leaders are now required to demonstrate,
technological savvy has rapidly become an integral
aspect of leadership effectiveness. It has even
been noted that the effective use of technology
is proving to be a “hierarchy buster.” It can be
an avenue for people to communicate
with leaders at all levels and whenever
they need to at any time.
Leading virtually is already a reality,
and requirements to lead geographically
dispersed units and teams will
only increase. Technology will not
be a solution for this challenge, but
it will surely be a tool.
The pressure on costs, increased
reality of virtual teams, and availability of technology
in leadership development has reduced
the need for people to travel to training programs,
will make learning opportunities available to
geographically dispersed leaders, and will allow
individuals access to learning opportunities when
it best suits their schedule. Technology can
extend learning over time rather than limiting it
to time spent in the classroom. Technology will
also enhance the emergence and sharing of
knowledge among participants via such venues
as chat-rooms, thought leader access, e-learning
advances, e-mentoring/ shadowing, and business
While technology is useful for some aspects
of leadership development, it cannot replace the
importance of bringing leaders together to deepen
their relationships and their learning experience.
Maximizing the effectiveness of leadership
development offers the best of both worlds: integrating
face-to-face classroom and coaching
experiences with technology-based tools and
processes, i.e., blended learning solutions (e.g.,
Alexander & Ciaschi, 2002).
Increasing Interest in the Integrity
and Character of Leaders
The 1990s witnessed ethical lapses and
arrogance among senior executives of certain
companies of disturbing-if-not-unprecedented
magnitude. Enron and WorldCom were two
notable examples. Such events probably accelerated
and deepened growing sentiment among
many—including members of organizational
governance boards—that interrelationships
among leadership, character, and values ought
to be made more salient.
It is probably not a coincidence that a recent
article in CEO Magazine (Martin, 2003)
observed that “the age of the imperial CEO is
waning. In its place, a crop of new CEOs –
humble, team building, highly communicative –
are rising” (p.25). Similarly, one of the intriguing
and unexpected findings in the book Good to
Great (Collins, 2001) was of the
universally modest and self-effacing
nature of CEOs in the good-to-great
companies. This contrasts considerably
with the often flamboyant and
self-promoting style of many popular
business leaders in recent years who,
despite celebrity status, typically did
not have an enduring positive impact
on their companies.
Bass and Steidlmeier (1999) noted that transformational
leadership is only authentic when
it is grounded on the leader’s moral character,
concern for others, and congruence of ethical
values with action. A leader’s credibility and
trustworthiness are critical, and increasing numbers
make the case that character—as defined by
qualities like one’s striving for fairness, respecting
others, humility, and concern for the greater
good—represents the most critical quality of
leadership (e.g., Sankar, 2003). Assuming there
is continuing if not increasing interest in the
character of leaders, much work is needed in the
years ahead to assure greater clarity of concept
about these vital-yet-elusive concepts if they are
to play a prominent role in leadership development
practices in organizations.
Pressure to Demonstrate Return on
The future trends noted reflect in part a
response to the changing context of leadership.
Perhaps the strongest pressure facing leadership
practitioners in the future may be to demonstrate
ROI (Kincaid & Gordick, 2003). While leadership
development is strategically important, it is usually
expensive. Yet while leading-edge companies
today such as PepsiCo, IBM, and Johnson and
Johnson spend significant time and resources on
leadership development, attempts to quantify its benefits precisely have remained elusive and have
led some to speculate that investment in developing
better leaders may be falling short of the
desired impact. In today’s economy, leadership
development expenses will likely have to meet
certain standards of proof of impact or return on
investment. Demonstrating and quantifying the
impact of leadership development investments is
likely to emerge as a priority for organizations
committed to building leadership strength.
To maximize ROI for leadership development
efforts, its payoffs organizations must effectively
plan, implement, and evaluate their initiatives.
They must create a “chain of impact” that connects
leadership development to relevant organizational
outcomes (Martineau & Hannum, 2003).
Historically, most organizations have not closed
the loop through systematic evaluation and thus
make assumptions about its efficacy based on
anecdotes, reactions, or hunches.
New Ways of Thinking about the
Nature of Leadership and Leadership
Emerging new perspectives on the nature of
leadership may profoundly affect our thinking
about leadership development. Increasingly,
leadership and leadership development are seen
as inherently collaborative, social, and relational
processes (Day, 2001). Similarly, Vicere (2002)
has noted the advent of the “networked economy”
where “partnerships, strategic and tactical, customer
and supplier, personal and organizational,
are essential to competitive effectiveness.”
As a result, leadership will be understood as
the collective capacity of all members of an organization
to accomplish such critical tasks as setting
direction, creating alignment, and gaining commitment.
Leadership development based on this
paradigm is more difficult to design and implement
than those that have been popular for the
last several decades in which the focus was to
train individual leaders. Taking this next step
will require a deeper understanding of the role of
organizational systems and culture in leadership
development (VanVelsor & McCauley, 2004).
The dual challenges of understanding the
nature of leadership development and implementing
effective leadership development practices
will likely be greater than ever before. At the
same time, we find ourselves guardedly optimistic
about the field’s future. Our optimism is
directly tied to some of the trends that make the
future both challenging and interesting. For
example, leadership development practices will
need to become better integrated in the broader
context of organizational business challenges and
systems. Thus, not only will organizations need
to hire and develop leaders, they will also need
to be the kind of organizations that nurture and
reinforce enactment of the kinds of behaviors
desired in those leaders. Similarly, demands to
demonstrate ROI can encourage greater rigor and
clarity in our understanding of the nature of leadership
development and in how we assess its
impact. Meeting such challenges will be one
important thrust of more comprehensive efforts
in the years ahead to demonstrate convincingly
the strategic role of people in organizations.


Jony Gibson said...

Leadership is the ability to motivate a group of people towards a common goal. I liked the blog ,how you pointed out the all the attributes one must convey to possess effective leadership.
Leadership development training