Leadership Development

Leadership Development

Leader development is developing the individual & enhancing the individual’s capability to lead (Day, Fleenor, Atwater, Sturm, & McKee, 2014; Dugan & O'Shea, 2014; Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004). 

Leadership development is developing many individuals on multiple levels (Day, Fleenor, Atwater, Sturm, & McKee, 2014) & building the organization’s capacity to produce direction, alignment, and commitment (McCauley, Velsor, & Ruderman, 2010).

“Winning companies win because they have good leaders
who nurture the development of other leaders
at all levels of the organization."
—Noel M. Tichy

16 Leadership Competencies

(Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011)

LEADING PEOPLE (leadership factor #1)

 1. Leading Courageously (competency) - Courageous leaders take charge and convey authority in tackling challenges, asserting themselves, pursuing their agenda, and influencing other leaders.
 2. Creating Alignment (competency) - An effective change leader creates alignment by ensuring the structure, systems, people, and processes are aligned in support of organizational goals.
 3. Team Leadership (competency) - A team leader assembles the right talent, maximizes cross-functional resources, practices group decision-making, empowers others to lead, and builds a sense of team.
 4. Developing Leaders (competency) - A leader who develops others effectively identifies talent, creates a development culture, promotes succession planning, challenges others, and provides coaching and support.

THINKING AND DECIDING (leadership factor #2)

 5. Strategic Thinking (competency) - A strategic leader brings a broad, longer-term, and informed perspective to bear on issues and problems in order to grow the business and compete in the market.
 6. Business Acumen (competency) - A leader with strong business acumen understands the global environment, business model, and key drivers of the organization, and leverages this understanding to recommend alternatives and measure performance.
 7. Critical Thinking and Judgment (competency) - A leader who thinks critically demonstrates the ability to analyze, synthesize, and manage complex information to develop well-reasoned solutions, navigate ambiguity, and make decisions.

ACHIEVING (leadership factor #3)

 8. Drive for Results (competency) - A results-driven leader demonstrates strong passion, urgency, and determination in moving things forward and accomplishing goals.
 9. Innovation and Risk-Taking (competency) - An innovative leader explores new ideas, experiments with risks, improves how things are done, encourages creativity, and examines assumptions in challenging the status quo.

RELATING TO PEOPLE (leadership factor #4)

 10. Interpersonal Effectiveness (competency) - An interpersonally effective leader interacts and communicates in a manner that demonstrates consideration, care, and concern for others.
 11. Building Collaboration (competency) - A collaborative leader participates with and involves others, promotes cooperation, builds partnerships, and resolves conflicts.

MANAGING WORK (leadership factor #5)

 12. Planning and Organizing (competency) - A planful, organized leader anticipates the future and establishes clear priorities by making time to create plans, involve others, and secure resources.
 13. Managing Execution (competency) - An execution-focused leader knows how to get things done by clarifying roles, delegating responsibilities, monitoring progress, and ensuring results.

MANAGING SELF (leadership factor #6)

 14. Resilience (competency) - A resilient leader adapts to changes and recovers from setbacks with composure, optimism, and confidence.
 15. Integrity (competency) - A high-integrity leader demonstrates trustworthiness, fairness, and personal responsibility, as well as an uncompromising commitment to ethical and values-based behavior.
 16. Learning Orientation (competency) - A learning-oriented leader actively pursues personal growth and improvement.

“An organization’s success depends on its talent—its ability to maximize its talent and to retain it. 
To be successful, an organization needs to enable its workforce to grow, develop, and mature. 
Coaching is one way to support continued employee development and can be a powerful tool for 
improving the performance of both the individual and the organization."
—Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner

Leadership Development — Job Assignment Areas

When developing leaders, it's important to identify different types of job (or stretch) assignments that can foster their professional development. There are 3 benefits to doing this: (1) job assignments help assess a person's readiness level to take on more responsibilities while expanding his skill base, (2) it's a proving ground for establishing new skills and abilities, and (3) it reduces the risk of a career transition by offering a realistic look at what's involved in a new job setting or leadership role (Barner, 2011).

Barner, 2011, pp. 63-65:   

(1) Working Through Messy Problems
Effective leaders are able to successfully tackle complex, ill-defined problems that have no readily available prescriptive, cookie-cutter solutions. These are often problems that an organization has encountered for the first time. These types of problems have developmental value because they push a leader’s thinking. They require the problem solver to identify the critical parameters of a complex situation, to carefully define the problem, to explore innovative solutions, to assess the varying risk levels associated with the implementation of those solutions, and to gain alignment from different stakeholders on the proposed solution.

(2) Influencing Without Authority
A critical leadership skill involves being able to sell ideas, negotiate tradeoffs, and balance the competing interests of leaders across the organization. This skill is particularly challenging when one lacks direct authority to drive results through positional power and authority. The best leaders are able to maintain a high level of credibility and trust with stakeholders from other organizational groups and to gain the commitment of those groups to reach business objectives.

(3) Managing Change 
The growth of international efforts, the challenges brought about by acquisitions and mergers, the introduction of new product lines or markets, and continual revisions in both organizational structure and leadership benches are but some of the difficult and stressful organizational changes that need to be managed in today’s organization. Companies are looking for leaders who can step out in front of such changes and successfully obtain results, while retaining employee commitment for change.

(4) Thinking Strategically
Good leaders wear bifocals, in that they are able to simultaneously keep one eye on the long-term trajectory of their organization while keeping the other eye focused on day-to-day expediencies. Thinking strategically means being able to not only develop long-term overarching objectives that constitute a winning game plan for a function or business unit, but also being able to understand the long-term ramifications of short-term decisions. It also involves being able to sift out, from a variety of confusing data, those informational components that are essential to making good business decisions.

(5) Working with Diverse Groups of People
Organizations are becoming increasingly diverse with respect to ethnic, cultural, and generational diversity. However, an often-overlooked aspect of diversity involves the ability to work with cognitive diversity. This is the term that researcher Paul Paulus of the University of Texas has coined to describe situations in which we find ourselves working with people who think quite differently and who approach problems from very divergent perspectives. An example would involve an IT leader’s ability to understand the perspectives of other departments in arriving at a plan for implementing an enterprise-wide technology change.

(6) Working Across Silos and Functions
A critical leadership competency is the ability to accomplish projects that span organizational boundaries. Such projects could include getting commitment from other functions on key initiatives, achieving alignment on seemingly contradictory functionally driven objectives, or managing process improvement projects that extend across the white space between functions.

(7) Developing Expertise Beyond Your Function
Effective leaders understand that their success in influencing actions across their organizations is strongly dependent on their ability to speak the language of other functions, understand business issues that span organizational boundaries, and align their requirements with the needs and priorities of other work groups. For an HR leader, this might involve the ability to build a business case for an HR initiative that is based on a solid knowledge of financial analytics. For a sales leader, the same skill might focus on understanding how a new product launch will create a downstream impact on engineering, manufacturing, and distribution.

(8) Managing Through to Execution
When executives discuss whether an individual has the potential for taking on broader leadership roles, a key question that is frequently asked is, “Has this person demonstrated the ability to get things done?” Anyone can come up with good ideas, but a relatively rare skill is the ability to find ways to creatively work around cost, time, and resource constraints to see an idea through to implementation. The development of this skill area is particularly important if you work in a function such as process improvement or strategic planning, where the bulk of your time involves strategy development and problem analysis, rather than business execution.

(9) Taking a Broader Perspective
Some of the most productive leadership developmental assignments are those that force us to examine our work from a broader organizational perspective. In part, this means being able to think at the next level; that is, to understand the issues, concerns, and leadership thinking that drive your manager’s decisions and priorities. It also means being able to move beyond a narrow parochial view of your job to see how your work is viewed from the perspectives of your internal stakeholders and external customers. Finally, it involves developing an understanding the potential impact of broader organization-wide business objectives and change initiatives.

Sources Cited

Barner, R. (2011). Accelerating your development as a leader: A guide for leaders and their managers. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Day, D. V., Fleenor, J. W., Atwater, L. E., Sturm, R. E., & McKee, R. A. (2014). Advances in leader and leadership development: A review of 25 years of research and theory. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 63-82.

Dugan, B. A., & O'Shea, P. G. (2014). Leadership development: Growing talent strategically. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Science of HR White Paper Series.

McCauley, C. D., Velsor, E. V., & Ruderman, M. N. (2010). Introduction: Our view of leadership development. In E. V. Velsor, C. D. McCauley, & M. N. Ruderman (Eds.), The Center for Creative Leadership handbook of leadership development (3rd ed., pp. 1-26). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Nelson, S. E., & Ortmeier, J. G. (2011). Awaken, Align, Accelerate: A Guide to Great Leadership. Edina, MN: Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc.

Van Velsor, E., & McCauley, C. D. (2004). The leader development process. In C. D. McCauley & E. Van Velsor (Eds.), The Center for Creative Leadership handbook of leadership development (2nd ed., pp. 204-233). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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