Leadership development has a powerful and lasting impact on the biggest challenges that organizations face, and investing in the right type of development is imperative to a successful leadership development strategy. Center for Creative Leadership, for one, is built around the belief that leadership development is a vital component for any organization’s long term growth. CCL programs such as Leadership Fundamentals are structured to further cultivate our leaders’ skills, and policies that instill initiatives like partner-learning for our clients ensures they reap the most benefits from our programs.
While evaluating types of leadership development, here’s what works!
Making leadership development a learning process, not just an event: Learning is a process, and leadership development works best when it is viewed as more than merely a program. Leadership development should include formal or classroom-based training, and 70-20-10 framework: 10 percent of learning from courses, 20 percent from other people, and 70 percent through on-the-job experiences and challenges. This framework is based on CCL’s pioneering studies of key events in executive’s lives and highlights the relative impact of 3 types of experiences on their leadership development. When all 3 areas are factored in, the results are amplified. The process of self-assessment and thinking about leadership goals is ongoing and should be the starting point for any formal development program, course or assignment. A clear effort should be made to connect the content and value of the development to the organizational purpose and situation. And, reinforcement and support at work through action-learning, mentoring, coaching, and other approaches helps people get past the initial awkward phase that usually comes with trying out new skills or behaviors.
Developing individual leaders is not the same thing as investing in large-scale, systemic change that enhances the leadership culture of an entire organization and cultivates the specific leadership skills needed to implement a business strategy
Informing the learning experience with global research: Personal stories and leadership experiences are often interesting and useful guides for individual leaders. But truly understanding what scalable leadership development looks like at individual, team, organizational, and societal levels starts with data — high-quality research that helps clients understand what their challenges are and serves as the basis for building effective solutions.
Tying what is learned in the classroom to key leadership challenges faced on the job: Leaders need to see how a new insight or different approach or a change in behavior will have impact on things that matter most to them. They want relevance in a general sense but, also a specific, clear link to their specific challenges. CCL asks learners to select a Key Leadership Challenge before coming to a program or engaging in a development experience. A Key Leadership Challenge is an existing project that aligns with the organization’s strategy and requires new approaches to be successful. This challenge provides a direct link from the workplace to what is being taught and a clear reason to practice new skills. It becomes a focal point for learning, and the person knows at the end of the program what they can do next to address their challenge. Leaders also work with an In-Class Accountability Partner and an At-Work Learning Partner. Peers who have learned together and colleagues who understand the organizational context are both powerful resources for linking an off-site experience to strategic work and day-to-day demands.
When leadership development is done the right way, measurable and lasting impact follows.
As CCL President and CEO John R. Ryan often says, “Leadership is like a muscle. The more intelligently you train, the stronger you get.”