Author Archives: lexlindeman

Trends in Leadership Development – Part 2

lexierwandaqwAuthor:
Lex Lindeman and Han van der Pool – HR Boosters

In my previous post, I wrote about the various ways to approach Leadership Development in Public or Private Organizations.  In this blog, I will go somewhat deeper into recent developments and strategies within Leadership Development.

The traditional executive development programs which concentrate on management theories and exhaustive cases studies have in recent years become less and less popular.  The poor usability of these modalities for current complex global business challenges, coupled with low ROI (Return on Investment) is the reason.  But there are interesting alternatives.

New Approaches
There are many new ways to expose current and future leaders to development activities.  Some of the most interesting ones include:

  • Customized programs developed specifically for the company by consultants and universities in which current questions and strategies are carefully observed.
  • Action learning projects in which participants treat real questions and where the implementation of the solutions in a follow-up session can be discussed.  The so-called Journey programs, in which managers are exposed to problems which can only be solved through good teamwork and perseverance, are examples of this.
  • Company simulations in which the participants are faced with the impact of their decisions.  These can include presentations of experienced managers from the company, in which examples and experiences are analyzed and discussed.
  • Personal development plans coupled with feedback coaching and execution of specific tasks.
  • Master classes to promote acquisition of technical skills and general knowledge sharing, including follow-up instruments to indicate the degree of success directly to the participant.

Developing A Program
A successful leadership development program is achieved by following these basic steps:

  • A Leadership Framework – Define the skills and characteristics of effective leadership within the company.
  • Curriculum – Link to specific leadership programs with several target groups within the company.
  • Measurement of the success of the programs and evaluation of their impact on both short- and long-term results of the company.
  • Continuous Adaptation to changing or new leadership profiles.

Authoritative Strategies
Here are some of the best strategies for creating your leadership development program and implementing it in your organization:

Use of Technology
Computer technology can be used to support development and learning.  The electronic support can focus on:

  • The learning process itself, both individually and in groups;
  • Developing and mastering education material and learning processes;
  • Organizing learning activities.

Some corporate universities have, for example, their own virtual learning environment. Participants from all over the world can work on specific learning programs. The virtual learning environment supports them with the learning process.  The websites offer the participants the possibility to get access in a simple way to specific and often personalized e-learning sources.

These sources are categorized in the website, so the visitor can simply click on internal and/or external Internet sites with specific content coupled to the learning curricula. These so-called learning platforms have been organized around one or a number of specific subjects.

The websites provide the user with the possibility of gathering information but also providing a contribution himself.  This is enabled through several functionalities (supported technologies) such as chat-functions and groupware.  E-learning applications replace a part of the “physical learning routes”, and as a result, the `classroom’ components become shorter.

“Just-in-Time” Learning
On-the-job experiences are a valuable component of development and learning.  We talk about interventions instead of courses because the element of coaching, training on-the-job, action learning and exchange of knowledge and skills through networks play an important role in the development of employees.

The chosen intervention must be related as close as possible to the needs of the employee.

The direct superior is the most suitable person to confirm the need related to the work processes, and the right time to pursue it.  A modular program off-the-shelf and managerial training can support the development if necessary.

Corporate Universities
Many organizations have decentralized their training departments or fully outsourced them.  Many have created corporate universities exclusively for their own employees.  These training departments serve a broad target group and organize a large variety of training and workshops including ‘open registration’.

The difference between a corporate university and a traditional training department is the strategic position it has in the organization, and the role it plays in leadership development, creativity and the problem solving capacity within the organization.

Corporate universities contribute to translating the vision of the company to work processes of the employees.  They focus on those skills which are essential for the functioning of the company.  In increasing complex and competitive business environments, traditional universities are not always fast enough to be able to anticipate to the specific needs of a company. Many organizations also prefer to keep the specific knowledge exclusively within the company.

In Summary
In this post, I’ve highlighted the latest thinking in the area of leadership development and the deployment of training programs in a corporate setting.  In my next blog, I will go deeper into more specific approaches to leadership development for public and private organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.

More About Lex:

Trends in Leadership Development – Part 1

lexierwandaqwAuthors:
Lex Lindeman and Han van der Pool – HR Boosters

Leadership is the most important condition for success in organizations. Quality of products and services, improvement of sales results and innovation are all positively influenced by leadership development within a company.  Leading organizations believe development for executives and managers should be an integrated part of their company strategy. Globalization, company growth, and the continuous introduction of new technologies require new skills for company leaders.  In the end, it is leadership that determines the economic performance of the company.

Executives Are Taking Charge of Their Own Development

Research shows that executives who take care of their personal development have a competitive advantage.  Leadership development has also a big influence in the way employees can exploit their knowledge and competencies, and also enhances the retention of talented staff.

Organizations are now offering more and more proactive leadership development within individual development plans.  According to a survey of the American Management Association (AMA), more than 25% of organizations spend more than one-third of their annual training budget on leadership development programs.  Some of the latest leadership development approaches include:

  • External leadership development programs organized by universities, executive training institutes and training through professional companies
  • Internal leadership training programs
  • Temporary ‘stretch’ assignments which help an individual to develop new skills and competencies
  • International assignments to obtain new experiences
  • External leadership training organized by consultants
  • Job rotation
  • Formal mentoring programs

Of course, not all learning takes place in a formal training situation. Experience based on internal and external studies for the US Department of Labor (1995) into the way in which high performing leaders learn, indicates that formal training is just 10% of how people learn.

High-Teach, High-Tech, High-Touch

In the current competitive market, Human Resource professionals always try to find ways to organize training in the most effective way.  Some options:

  • High-Teach methods are all methods aimed at the person to ensure that learning takes place as effectively, pleasantly and efficiently possible.  High-Teach is all about learning and lesson methods.  From an initial interview, specific learning objectives for the participant are formulated, and the learning methods and instruments are adapted to the participants, their context and the characteristics of the competencies.
  •  High-Tech methods are all the applications and instruments which can be offered for preparation, deepening or development of subjects on-line with a computer
    (e-Learning).  E-Learning is common for both applications training (learning to work with software packages) and for general managerial skills.  This method is usually very efficient; a participant can learn at a moment of his choice wherever he is.  By means of the computer, you can gather knowledge, but real insight in your own person, or to practice skills and behaviors, you’ll need to interact with others.  The computer doesn’t offer that interaction, yet the bulk of your development always takes place in relation to others.
  • High-Touch methods are all working methods which are aimed to deepen and intensify contact with the participant.  This process requires confidence and security for openness, and the courage to explore.  It is always the mutual connection which makes the moment instructive.  Inviting people to openly explore new ideas is the nature of High-Touch.

Coaching Methods

Coaching is considered as a flexible and confidential communication from both sides in which an executive can give feedback, and receive support and recommendations. Executive coaching is organized in three different manners.

  • Feedback Coaching is direct feedback given within the framework of a personal development plan, and addresses specific questions (duration: on average up to three months).
  • In-Depth Coaching is a close and deep relationship between the executive manager and a coach.  During the sessions, they work on specific and mostly personal questions (average duration: from six up to twelve months).
  • Substantive Coaching provides leaders with support to address substantively complex questions with the objective to increase skills, capacities and competencies (duration: variable).

In successful leadership development programs, several methods are often used.  Support from top management and a strong link to strategic questions are conditions for success.  The outcome of the programs must help the managers to solve questions from their daily business practice.

Recent Developments

Creative and non-traditional programming is becoming more and more important.   Traditional course programs in an auditorium are de-emphasized, and there is a clear movement from High-Teach to High-Touch.  Some organizations also add High Tech elements to their programs.

Other recent developments include:

  • Tailor-made programs developed specifically for the company by consultants and universities in which current questions and strategies are carefully observed.
  • The development of ‘action learning’ programs such as the so-called ‘journey programs’ in which managers are exposed to problems which can only be solved through good teamwork and perseverance.
  • Elaboration of personal development plans with coupled feedback, coaching and execution of specific tasks.
  • Increasing attention to acquiring technical skills and sharing knowledge.

In my next post, I will provide additional, in-depth insights into several of these recent innovations.

In Summary

Organizations have to deal with a range of challenges to anchor leadership. Research has shown (Tichy, 1997) that successful organizations have several leaders, at each level of the organization.  This starts at the top.  Leaders with an established reputation and a track record of success are the best learning masters for others and future leaders.  Developing leadership in an organization is not possible without the commitment of the top leaders in the organization.

More About Lex: