In 1983, EDA conducted its first study of trends research in the
area of executive and leadership development. At this time, leadership development was still considered in its earliest days. There was no weight to the idea that execute development should truly reflect and support the company’s strategic objectives, or that it should drive performance. This was truly a revelation for CEOs and companies alike.
Present Day Leadership Development
In this day, the idea of fully developing a company’s executive structure and cultivating future leaders is embraced by companies around the world. CEOs understand and accept the idea that executive and leadership development programs should be tied to long-term strategic company goals.
There are certain characteristics that define successful
leadership, with one of the most prominent being solid management that is transparent and company-focused.
Characteristics of Good Leadership
So what truly makes a good leader? Insureon CEO Ted Devine has taken a revolutionary stance. Devine says that an open floor plan is critical for leadership, telling the employees that there is no hierarchy, no walls, no barriers to making a decision. Everyone talks to everyone else, and everyone works together. Devine believes in flat management structures, management that is collaborative and based on teamwork.
Scott Abel of Spiceworks, a Texas-based management software firm, says that leadership is about harnessing brainpower and the energy of younger workers. “Try to guide that energy and enthusiasm. If you want to put your head through the wall, you might want to know where the studs are.”
The Core of Competitive Leadership Strategy
An organization’s most sustainable sources of competitive advantage is the leadership core. Unfortunately, leadership development is not prioritized by most businesses, and gets buried beneath HR Vice presidents who don’t have the same ear of the CEO.
They lack the background of a CEO and aren’t trained in the leadership side of things.
Executive and leadership development professionals known how to work the corporate system and educate employees and management alike. They know how to conduct a needs assessment for the whole organization, and then know how to learn what its business units need.
They can evaluate current employee and CEO skills against business outcomes and
objectives, then develop a program or set of programs that will address the gaps in knowledge and skills.
Then, a leadership professional can deliver smooth, continuous improvements over the program, working with senior management to determine learning needs in the future.
Four Pillars of Development
There are four basic pillars of leadership development. These are critical context, whole person development, development as a journey, and service promotes purpose. Korn Ferry structured these four pillars to explain how leadership should be built over the lifetime of the organization.
1) Critical context
Real context and practical application are vital to accelerate leadership development. Any organization needs leaders who will be exposed to current, real obstacles, the way they will be under pressure. Case studies and the challenge of solving real problems will help to develop leaders in this way.
2) Whole person development
The organization gets better as the individual gets better, as this theory promotes. Tap prior experiences and lessons, and discuss personality characteristics that show a strong influence on behavior. Look at competencies and drivers as influences on the CEO’s career.
3) Development as a journey
Seen as a process that occurs over many years, leadership is something that happens throughout the entire business lifecycle. There should be a clear, coherent development process that allows the leader to grow in a personal journey that benefits the whole organization’s program design.
4) Service promotes purpose
Leaders must have a vision beyond themselves to create and sustain real impact. Having a purpose motivates leaders to inspire, create, build, and improve the organization in a broader, longer-term goal. This is one way to unleash the potential of the organization.
Ultimately, leadership development is a critical component of true business growth. By focusing on its leaders, the company can grow as a whole, thriving through strong executive management and initiatives that benefit the organization and individual alike. Implementing a good leadership plan will help all corporations thrive by using the four pillars and focusing on real world situations to help CEOs lead, develop, and take the
business to new heights.