Category Archives: Training

Postings and discussions about training

From Training Departments to a Company Academy Part 2

Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

We are happy to share the second part in our two-part series about Company Academies.  In Part 1, we discussed how Company Academies have evolved and their stages of development.  In this post, we’ll discuss trends and new developments in Company Academies, and the roles the various stakeholders should play.

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From Training Departments to a Company Academy Part 1

Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Nobody questions the importance of learning and developing.  However, in these uncertain times, training and development activities are often put on hold or investments in T&D are drastically reduced. One of the reasons T&D activities are cut or reduced is the difficulty of proving that HR Development is a valuable and effective component of successful management. The concept of Company Academies (also known as Corporate Academies or Corporate Universities), however, offers a good starting point for a clear positioning of Human Resource Development.

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The Way to Identify your Future Leaders – Part 2

Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Leadership has an effect on the bottom line – not directly, but by shaping the culture within which an organization operates, its climate and through its influence on employee engagement.  Identifying and developing leadership is a business critical process. Leadership depends on the type of personality, personal preferences, skills and relevant experiences.

Burning questions for Talent Development are:

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The Way To Identify Your Future Leaders (Part 1)

Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

It is not that easy to identify and groom future leaders.  Companies make use of various techniques to spot talent, and often manage their inventory of high potentials – those with the best chance of being a future leader.  In this post, we describe some of the best techniques which are used by companies to manage their talent pool of future leaders.

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E-Learning in Africa (and the rest of the world!) Part 2

Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

In part one of this two-part post, we discussed e-learning in Africa, and especially the hurdles of implementation.  In this second part, we will delve more into practical advice for successful implementations in Africa, or anywhere else in the world!

In a broad sense, e-learning can be defined as “any form of learning that makes use of a network for distribution, interaction and facilitation.” There are plenty of demonstrable success stories and breathtaking ROIs.  However, the other side of the coin is that in many cases, web-based investments turn out to be fiascoes and only lead to a waste of time.

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Creating High Performance Teams

Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya)

Lex Lindeman

Paul Rono

What is a Team?
A team is a group of people who work together to accomplish something beyond their individual self interests.  Not all groups are teams.  What distinguishes teams from other similar sounding groups is that a team is not a collection of people simply following orders.

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E-Learning in Africa? – Part 1

Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

A growing number of African Countries are now connected to high-speed internet connections, and with increasing competition in the global economy, organizations are forced to look for more efficient and effective ways to create, spread and to apply functional and managerial knowledge.

E-learning and knowledge management have become key words in organizational learning processes in the Africa as well.  Many organizations invest in managing the knowledge within the organization and e-Learning, as a supporting tool, is used more and more.

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How Top Companies Manage Talent Development



Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Globalization, demographic developments, the credit crisis and global warming have all created the need for a shift in strategic management. Organizations are now faced with the need for continuous adaptation to changes in the markets and the world in general.  Leadership is the most important condition for success in organizations.  Organizations which treat development of executives and managers as an integrated part of company strategy have a distinct advantage over those that do not manage leadership development actively.

Together with Dave Ulrich of the RBL Group, Hewitt Associates examined how successful companies structure their management development practices and identify and develop their current and potential future managers and leaders. This research is carried out once every two years, and the outcome and the rankings were published in Fortune Magazine in November, 2009.

A closer look at the research shows a nice overview of the practice of leadership development and the importance which global companies attach to it. The inventory of the programs and instruments used by an array of companies operating globally was compared with the financial results of those companies, and gives some insight into the most effective approaches. The “Top Companies for Leaders” are the most advanced in talent management and leadership development, and have a real leadership culture, according to the researchers.

Over five hundred companies have taken part in this research. Every company completed an exhaustive questionnaire, which was analyzed and compared to other companies by the researchers. Afterwards, a selected group of companies was more closely studied through interviews with HR professionals and top managers.  To see profiles of the Top Ten, click here.

Main Conclusions
The research shows clearly that successful companies continue to invest in leadership development despite the economic situation and the enormous strategic issues which companies face. Here is an overview of the most important elements which make a difference at “Top Companies for Leaders.”

  • Strategy – There is a clear link between the strategy of the company and the strategy of leadership development. Successful organizations closely examine which talent programs are needed and which interventions are necessary to realize their company strategy.
  • Involvement – The responsibility of talent development lies at the top of the organization, and top management is also actively involved in the development of future management. The top managers themselves are frequently active as mentors, coaches or trainers, and frequently share their experiences and insights. Often the CEO plays a prominent, active role in training or action learning, i.e., using high potentials coupled with experienced leaders on essential questions. Also, CEO’s are involved in the programs by means of internal communication.
  • Talent Pipeline – Talent development is considered as a “mission-critical” company process. The best performing companies see the filling of the talent pipeline organization-wide as a necessity. They use sharp definitions of talent (high potentials), measurable criteria and a rigorous process for to determine who belongs in the talent pool and who does not. The outcomes of this are measured with KPIs.
  • Ongoing Processes – The Top Companies for Leaders have incorporated management development in their business cycles. The companies think about ongoing, recurring development processes instead of one-time initiatives. Talent management has a high priority in these organizations. Much attention is given to identifying high potentials, determination of specific career paths for these high potentials, coaching and their active contribution to training and development programs. High potentials are assisted in their development by means of training, e-learning, coaching and job rotation, as well as action learning. Thanks to this approach, leadership and company development evolve continuously together.
  • Behavior – In these Top Companies, leaders are significantly more aware of which behavior is expected of them. This also becomes apparent in all aspects of the organization: performance management (leaders are rewarded for the degree desired behaviors are demonstrated), promotion decisions (people are only promoted when the desired behaviors are shown), recruitment and selection (leadership behavior is an essential selection criterion) and communication from the top of the organization.
  • Critical Objective – High potential talent is considered as a strategic advantage and the development of this talent is and the development of a robust talent pipeline is considered a critical objective for the organization’s top management.
  • Leadership Programs – Only leadership programs with high added value for talent development are organized.  Programs whose content is linked with organizational needs are chosen.  The leadership programs are fully integrated with other human resources processes, such as performance management, promotion policy, training and development, reward, succession and career planning,and are coordinated from one central point in HR.
  • Implementation – Leadership is a mindset.  It is included in the day-to-day of the business.  The Top Companies distinguish themselves by making talent management a regular part of operational management. All the leaders of the company are responsible for managing talent within the organization. Also, they are responsible for continuing the implementation of talent management in the organization. This infrastructure is embedded in the daily leadership culture and managers develop the necessary competencies to be able execute talent management effectively.

Author’s Observations
Based on the findings of the Hewitt/RBL Study, we at Human Resources Boosters have developed a model to achieve excellence in integrated talent management. This model comes in three phases:

  1. Structure – Companies should introduce functional profiles, competency models, describe paths for growth, implement a yearly performance management cycle with clear achievable targets and incentive structures, career- and succession planning and the maintenance of this system (talent management infrastructure).
  2. Process – Companies should embed talent management in the organization. The total infrastructure should be part of the day-to-day leadership culture. Managers should develop coaching and training skills and experience to be able to execute talent management effectively.
  3. Selective Development – Successful organizations closely examine which talent programs they need and which interventions are necessary to realize the company strategy. Examples of selective development are tailor made leadership programs, management development initiatives like inter-company exchange of talent, market and product oriented development, etc.

Hewitt showed with this research that companies, even in time of great uncertainty, are able to counter market and economical challenges by maintaining or even increasing efforts in talent management. Most of the companies even invested anti-cyclic, i.e.,  when markets were relatively calm companies invested more time and resources in people development. This also anticipates better times.

When talent development is really embedded in the organization and seen as an ongoing rhythm, the total processes in an organization will not only run more smoothly, but also more effectively, generating shareholder and stakeholder value. To become a top listed company may be a bridge too far for some organizations.  However, with relatively simple actions, some investments, and strong convictions that people development should be part of your routine activities, your company will develop in a sustainable way.

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Delegation: Leadership Development in Africa – Part 2

Lex Lindeman

Dr. Paul Rono

Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi)

In our previous post Leadership Development in Africa – Part 1, we explored the characteristics of effective leaders and the way to develop them.  One of the important competencies of effective African leaders is delegation.  In many African public and private companies, management asks us to focus on delgation during workshops we conduct for their staff.  It seems to them that African managers, especially, need to learn to delegate more than they do already.


The main purpose of delegation is to make organizations possible.  Just as no one person in an organization or enterprise can perform all tasks necessary for the accomplishment of group purpose; so is it impossible, as an organization grows, for one person to exercise all the authority for making decisions.

If managers delegate poorly it will cause demotivation, frustration, slow decision making and the manager will have no time for his or her subordinates. Good delegation will save time, ensure a better distribution of workload, and ultimately lead to better decisions.  And, effective delegation will help to develop, empower and motivate subordinates.

Why Managers Don’t Delegate

Some managers think that no one else can do the job the way they want it done, how they want it done and when they want it done.  They think it’s easier and more efficient to do it on their own, and they believe that they can do it better than their employees.  These assumptions are incorrect!

Managers are not sure how to do delegate correctly.  Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard over the years:

  • “My team members lack the experience.”
  • “It takes more time to explain than to do the job myself.”
  • “A mistake by a team member could be costly for my project.”
  • “My position enables me to get quicker action.”
  • “There are some things that I shouldn’t delegate to anyone.”
  • “My team members are specialists and they lack the overall knowledge that many of my decisions require.”

I came across this small quote in New African, June 2009 by Akua Djanie:

“I don’t know what it is about Africans, but we are afraid of, and shy away from, the idea of delegating someone to take our place when we are unavailable, is it because we think the person we delegate to will do a better job than us? Is it because we want to be seen as the one in charge; the one that can make or break the company, the project or the team? It is unbelievable, but from our post offices, to our small-scale businesses, and to the multinationals, it seems that everyone in Africa is scared to delegate.

Delegation shows the effectiveness of teamwork, because no matter how wonderful someone is at their job, no person is an island. And no project or company can function with only an individual. What delegation shows is that even if a particular person is unavailable, the project, team or company can still proceed because that person has put mechanisms in place to ensure the smooth running of operations. So rather than see delegation as a threat to their positions, Africans should embrace delegation as a strength. It simply does not make sense for everything to come to a standstill because one person is not available or one person is trying to do everything by him- or herself.”

But delegation is not only an issue in Africa; in institutions in the rest of the world, managers struggle with the same issues.

The Organization

Every position in a formal organization has a specified set of tasks or “position responsibilities, authorities and accountability.” Tasks should be delegated (assigned) to the lowest level in the organization at which there is sufficient competence and information for effective task performance.

The three concepts of responsibility, authority, and accountability are the major variables in the theory of delegation:

  • Authority: Superiors delegate authority – permission and encouragement to take action – but they do not delegate responsibility, which they share with their subordinates. Thus responsibility, as accepted by the one to take action exists and is shared from the point of acceptance upward, level by level, to the top of the organization.
  • Responsibility: Responsibility is an obligation owed and cannot, therefore, be delegated. No superior can escape, through delegation, responsibility for the activities of subordinates, for it is he who has delegated authority and assigned duties. Likewise, the responsibility of the subordinate to his superior for performance is absolute; once he has accepted an assignment and the power to carry it out, no superior can escape responsibility for the organization activities of his subordinates.
  • Accountability: Since authority is the discretionary right to carry out assignments and responsibility is the obligation to accomplish them, it follows, therefore, that authority should correspond to accountability. From this logical analysis emerges the principle that the accountability for actions cannot be greater than that implied by authority delegated, nor should it be less.

Advantages of Delegation
Delegation is a powerful management tool.  Some advantages of delegation include:

  • Efficiency: The more a superior is able to delegate, the more time he has for thinking, planning, etc.
  • Better Decisions: The person who is close to the scene of action should be better able to make decisions than a distant superior.
  • Initiative: Delegation encourages initiative on the part of subordinates so that the organization can use their skills more fully. Initiative in turn improves morale, because people take increased interest in their work if they are given an opportunity to use their own judgment.
  • Timeliness: Delegation improves timing of decisions, because it minimizes the necessity for sending recommendations up the chain of command to decision makers several levels above the point where the recommendations were initiated.
  • Speed: A do-it or-else order eliminates the time-consuming dillydallying of feedback. But speed may cost accuracy and morale.

Barriers to Delegate

Many managers will find a ‘good’ reason not to delegate; here are some pretexts which can be found in any work environment:

  • The need to be needed: A superior who has an intense desire to make or keep subordinates dependent will find it difficult to give sincere recognition for job achievement by them.
  • Fear of losing control: When superiors delegate, they run a risk of the subordinates not doing the job well, and losing control of the performance for which he is accountable.
  • Fear of surrendering authority: Whenever you delegate, you surrender some element of authority (but not of responsibility!) This is inevitable. By effective delegation, however, you get the benefits of adequate time to do YOUR job really well.
  • Perfectionism: Just as you have to develop staff to do jobs quickly without your involvement, you will have to let people make mistakes, and help them to correct them. Most people will, with time, learn to do jobs properly.
  • The Desire for Reward: Many managers enjoy the rewards and self-fulfillment associated with achievement of doing work.  Delegating to subordinates necessarily means that the subordinates will get the reward.
  • Fear of Competition: Other managers are afraid that if they assign work, and their subordinates develop, they will someday outperform them, overtake the manager in the hierarchy of the company.
  • It’s a Effort: Delegation takes time. In the early stages, managers need to invest time in training their people to take over tasks. When coaching and checking are taken into account, it may even initially take longer to achieve the desired outputs. In time however, with the right people, your coaching investment will pay back handsomely.

It is common for people who are newly promoted to managerial positions to have difficulties delegating. Often they were promoted because they were good at what they were doing. This brings the temptation to continue trying to do their previous job, rather than acting as a manager, and focus on developing their new subordinates.

How to Overcome Weak Delegation

Here are ten tips for you to help you to delegate more easily:

  1. Define assignments in the light of expected results.
  2. Select the right person to which to delegate.
  3. Open up the lines of communication with your subordinates for consultation and counseling.
  4. Establish proper controls for proper use of authority.
  5. Reward effective delegation and successful assumption of authority.
  6. Be willing to give other people’s ideas a chance (never say: “Yes but….” This means NO!)
  7. Be willing to release the right to make decisions (we call this empowerment).
  8. Allow others to perform even though they make mistakes.
  9. Trust your delegated junior. Delegation implies a trustful attitude between the two.
  10. Establish and use broad controls. Responsibility is not delegated, hence the need for you to establish a means of feedback to assure yourself that the authority delegated is being used in support of the organizational objectives.

Conclusion: Weak Delegation in Africa?

As I said earlier, delegation is a global problem. But a very positive aspect is that Africans are very keen to learn and to try things out. This attitude toward change allows Africans to learn to adopt delegation faster and easier. Studies in Africa show that Africans are ready to accept delegation of duties more easily than in the western world. Many managers in Africa learn easily to delegate and delegation is readily accepted, respected and honored. Demonstrate how how important the jobs, the expectations, the goals and tasks are, and the African is keen to accept.

Mike Boon (2007) stated that accountability is one of the key area that must be stressed when delegating tasks to an African manager:

“Through this accountability, they become leaders and others will follow them.” When a manager or leader encourages accountability through delegation, the result will be growth and progression.”

More About the Authors

More About Lex:

More About Paul:
Dr. Rono is a lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.  He is an authority on leadership development, and has published various articles related to leadership development in Africa with a progressive yet adoptable and realistic view.  Watch for his new website coming soon!

Leadership Development in Africa – Part I

Lex LindemannAuthors:
Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters and
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi)

In my last article, I highlighted the latest thinking in the area of western leadership development and the deployment of training programs in a corporate setting. In this short article, we will discuss some specific approaches to leadership development for public and private organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I would like to welcome Dr. Paul Rono as my co-author.  With Paul’s experience as a university lecturer and my experience as leadership developer for numerous private and public companies in Africa, we think we can give the reader a good ‘blend’ of effective leadership development for African managers.

Natural Leaders?
The leadership and philosophies of African political leaders have affected institutions and companies in various African countries for many years.  For example, charismatic leaders were believed to be those who have the natural capacity and personality traits or qualities to lead.  Hence, leaders were said to be born or natural “great men.”   Traditionally, leadership was said to be an attribute of personality.  Born or charismatic leaders become real leaders because they have such personality qualities but also: ambition, patience, pride, humility, wisdom, friendliness, dependability, force, endurance and, of course, managerial competencies.

Modern Functional Leadership is essentially to facilitate the interaction within a group to achieve preset goals, to realize the organization’s strategic objectives.  Such functional managers or leaders are usually nominated, appointed and selected from among equals.  If people utilize proper and effective managerial tools and motivation, performance and effectiveness increase considerably.  Of course, this is also applicable to African managers and leaders acquiring or possessing modern functional leadership skills in a target achievement and ‘productive’ environment.

Successful Leadership Behaviour
The elements enumerated above are essential to successful leadership behaviour.  The successful leader is:

  • Sensitive to the feelings of others, helpful, responsive and friendly.
  • Loyal to his ideals and ideas and respectful of the beliefs, rights and dignity of others.
  • Strong in his/her feelings of self-confidence and ability to identify easily with co-workers and supervisors.
  • Enthusiastic when informing others about the introduction of a strategic program.
  • Takes interest in improving the group and get work done and avoid envy and jealousy.
  • Endeavours to give others the benefit of doubt and or advantages and firm but not proud or stubborn in making judgments and decisions. They are sincere and straightforward.
  • Embraces change in their departments and don’t avoid reasonable risk taking.
  • Manages individual performance and steer their subordinates on a regular basis.

Successful African Leaders Competencies
The modern African leader or manager should be more ‘democratic’ in his/her relations with subordinates and at the same time maintain the necessary authority and control in the organization or institution for which he/she is responsible.  The somewhat less modern African leaders rely on collective accountability.  Good (thus effective) leaders inspire people/staff to perform optimally if necessary individually or as a team.  The best African leaders, despite their many differences in personality, practice certain principles like delegation, creativeness, networking, individual accountability and decision-making.

What are Effective Leaders?







  • They take an interest in employees and communicate clearly and transparent.
  • They keep morale high. They encourage team spirit. They also give a feeling of being respected and being needed. They awaken enthusiasm and motivation.
  • They use commands sparingly. They avoid giving orders such as, “Do this!”, “Stop this,” or “Do it this way.” They request, not demand.
  • They show respect and faith to subordinates. They show the same consideration they would like to receive and show interest to others.
  • They welcome suggestions and prompt employees to think creatively. They avoid the phrase: “Yes but…” which generally is considered as a: “No!”
  • They handle grievances fairly. They act fairly. No favourites when assigning work. They are impartial.
  • They express approval. They show appreciation and complement, but they allow a certain level of mistakes made.
  • They create highly productive teams, delegate tasks wisely, and step aside.
  • They develop their people to enable them to prepare them to achieve more challenging goals.



Characteristics of Effective Leaders
The nature and style of functional (managerial) leadership greatly influence job satisfaction and motivation.  Effective leaders show consideration for employees and enable them to have a sense of participation in decisions that affect them and they will have the following characteristics:

  • Sensitivity to the individual problems people face on the job.
  • Availability and openness to people in need of help.
  • Sympathy with adverse conditions in the work environment.
  • The ability to establish more than a boss-worker relationship.
  • Above all delegate challenging tasks to their subordinates.

Highly productive leaders tend to spend more time than less productive managers to:

  • Motivate and inspire their employees and provide structure.
  • Keep employees informed.
  • Get ideas and suggestions on important matters before going ahead.
  • Try out new ideas with them.
  • Show consideration for their needs.
  • Coach their workers individually.
  • Develop and train employees for increased responsibilities.

Managers and Leadership Development
Most leaders want to be more effective in their leadership.  Some think they only need to learn techniques, others assume that they can learn a magic formula or foolproof method.  Effective functional leadership implies an intensive development process.  Some of the ability comes as a result of experience, some by learning from mistakes, by profiling from the experience and mistakes of others, from personal insights and by learning managerial skills.

To become truly effective African Managers and Leaders they will have to be developed through sustainable leadership competency programs that offer training with a difference.  (See “Trends in Leadership development” Part II).  These development efforts should be highly interactive, aimed at leadership and managerial competencies such as delegation and responsibilities acceptance.  These customized interventions are generally short (maximum 4 to 5 days) followed up and coached by their superiors, i.e. the participants should be given room to ‘experiment’ with their newly acquired skills.

In Summary
It is certain that African countries will grow and develop in the coming years; look at the example of the pace of growth of mobile phone networks and coverage.  Efficient infrastructures, systems and processes are put in place. However, just this is not enough; Inspiring Functional Leadership is an absolute necessity for growth.  Sustainable investment in the modern development of African managers and leaders is primordial.  In order to accelerate and maintain growth in Sub-Saharan Africa we must put in place the right learning work environment and formal, high-impact development possibilities.

In our next article, Paul and I will go deeper into specific competency development aspects such as the ability to delegate tasks, sense of responsibility and speeding up the execution of tasks, again related to African managers and leaders.

More About the Authors

More About Lex:

More About Paul:
Dr. Rono is a lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.  He is an authority on leadership development, and has published various articles related to leadership development in Africa with a progressive yet adoptable and realistic view.  Watch for his new website coming soon!