Extending Reach and Ensuring Effectiveness of Leadership Development

Article excerpt

SKILLSOFT

Introduction to Leadership Development

Leadership is a crucial element in organizations that experience enduring success, as pointed out in numerous business books nd articles. While there is little debate about its value, there is a wide range of ideas on what defines good leadership and how it can be systematically developed within an organization.

One reason that leadership continues to fascinate people is that it involves the complex interplay of so many variables: personality, life experiences and the ability to connect emotionally with others are as important as having a grasp of specific management concepts or industry knowledge. Training can play a role in improving some aspects of leadership ability, but other elements are either innate or difficult to teach. One thing that is clear is that there is no one, single activity that is sufficient to develop leadership in an organization; successful programs are built upon a complex set of activities that focus on various aspects of leadership.

Recent research also shows that the definition of leadership development is evolving from a set of activities focused on developing leadership qualities in selected individuals, to the processes and environments that encourage leadership behaviors throughout an organization. This change of perspective is being driven by a number of business challenges, such as increasing competition, globalization, the need for continuous innovation, as well as the evolving nature of work teams. It also stems from recognition that leadership development focused on a chosen few creates a culture of haves and have-nots, which is not conducive to morale or retention.

Another factor in the evolution of leadership development is the overall trend toward talent management systems, which generally include a strong component of technology-based learning. As more and more companies adopt formal talent management systems, there is a tendency to make training in general, and leadership training specifically, more widely available to more parts of the organization at all levels. Recent research also shows that companies with high ratings for leadership tend to have robust talent management systems. Providing leadership training more widely has the potential to be costly, but is also likely to result in higher employee satisfaction and loyalty, as surveys of managers show that leadership development opportunities are highly valued.

What is the Role of Technology-based Learning within Leadership Development?

As mentioned above, leadership development involves a complex blend of activities, some of which are not training per se. …