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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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