Leadership Development – Is there really more to learn?


So I googled “leadership” and more than 250 million hits were returned.  With that count, you might guess that either you have a whole lot more to learn or nothing at all assuming that content is redundant and dated.  I take the dare to share with you how leadership continues to be the force that your organization needs to survive and thrive in our slowly recovering economy.    Dealing effectively with the complex issues that our recent economic downturn dealt to us – most notably, huge gaps in our leadership pipelines and existing leaders lacking skill sets to lead your organizations successfully in the 21st century, requires leaders who:

·         Have a global mindset;

·         Advocate innovation;

·         Are agile and emotionally intelligent to effectively manage diverse workforces; and

·         Execute despite a world of change, conflict, and uncertainty around them.

An international study of over 1,000 CEOs by IBM has found that successful CEOs see these four pressures as opportunities to differentiate, to set them and their organizations apart from “pretty good.”  During Bersin & Associates’ annual talent conference next month, IMPACT 2010: The Business of Talent, in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 26th – 28th, I will be sharing our findings of our 2010-2011 high-impact leadership development research.  Our research validates these opportunities, and during my session, we’ll review the six best practices of leadership development, new trends impacting those best practices, the how and why of a leadership strategy, and examples of best-in-class global leadership initiatives. 

Regarding the last point, as one example of many, take a look at WPP, a world leader in marketing communications services. As a professional services company, their 10,000+ employees are their most important assets.  Leadership development is naturally a key means for their change and growth. In-depth perspectives offered by WPP’s senior leaders helped the organization to better understand how they needed to differentiate themselves from their competition by transforming from a ‘service provider’ to a ‘trusted advisor.’ WPP embarked on developing client leadership skills, enabling the organization to attract and retain clients, as well as expand the scope of business that may otherwise be untapped or lost to a competitor. 

They recognized that while their leaders had been successful in the past for certain behaviors and abilities, those skills needed to be upgraded for continued success – they needed leaders who could think globally, act with speed and agility, be creative, and manage a diverse workforce of younger generation and women leaders.   They deployed a 5-day blended program (coaching, networking, role playing, client case-based experiential learning) for executive leaders in 20 countries focused on:

·         Complex problem solving and fact-based decision making;

·         Client/business development;

·         Culturally sensitive relationship skills; and

·         People/team leadership.

In terms of business impact, WPP leveraged the Kirkpatrick levels 1 -4. Regarding level 3 and 4 metrics, WPP gathered anecdotal stories of new business won by program alumni or collaboration between different units that had not happened before.  Such stories served as qualitative evidence of application of the skills, proof of the benefits of the networking, and a clear demonstration of the program's financial ROI.

Come to IMPACT 2010, join my session on Leadership Development Essentials for the Next Decade, to gather more data from our 2010-2011 leadership development research and hear more great examples of how high-impact organizations are prepping for the 21st century. This session is just one of many more leadership development knowledge sharings at our IMPACT conference. Watch my blog for information on other leadership development sessions taking place at our IMPACT conference next month. 

Until then, please write to me at barb.arth@bersin.com and share your thoughts regarding critical 21st century leadership development. 

Andrea Derler

Andrea Derler, Ph.D., joined Bersin by Deloitte in March 2015 and leads the Leadership & Succession Management research practice. She brings international work experience as leadership trainer & coach and a solid academic background to this role. Prior to joining Bersin, she collaborated closely with organizations in the USA as well as Europe in order to pursue practice-oriented leadership research. Andrea studied international management, organizational culture and integral leadership and facilitated leadership development efforts in a variety of industries. She holds a doctoral degree in Economics (Leadership & Organization), and a Master’s degree in Philosophy. Her work about leaders’ Ideal Employee recently received wide-spread media attention in Europe and was published in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal

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