Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Leadership Development: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 8, 2018 1:15:00 PM / by John Schiavone

Leadership development is any initiative that makes people better leaders within their business, NGO, community, or personal life.

What is Leadership Development?

Leadership development can be defined as any initiative that makes people better leaders within their business, nonprofit organization, community, or personal life.

Leadership development is critical to the long-term success of organizations. But what actually makes a leader better?  How can organizations make more informed judgments on who they hire and promote?

Together we’ll explore why it’s important to develop great leaders and some modern day challenges organizations face.

Challenges in Modern Leadership Development

Many organizations are experiencing a leadership gap where the demand for effective leadership is growing, and the supply of effective leadership is waning. In 2016, at a TEDxOxbridge event, Matt Beeton, former director within the Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace business, cites that 80% of leaders fail to impress in their first two years, 70% admit to being stressed, and that over 70% admit to not enjoying their job.

Poor leadership and unhappy employees isn’t the only challenge. An article published on CareerMinds states that, “organizations are experiencing an influx of baby boomer exits” which makes it difficult to keep a sustained pipeline of leaders in today’s society.

Another costly breakdown in leadership is the disconnect between employees and their leaders. Studies show that as many as one in three employees do not trust their employer. While that may seem alarming, what is more surprising is that almost 90% of people value professional recognition as much as financial recognition.

These statistics demonstrate a desire among employees for stronger leaders, greater leadership alignment, and leadership teams that can maintain effective communication and cultivate positive emotional relationships.

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Why is Leadership Development Important?

Every organization is looking for "Superbosses", leaders that can execute a strategic vision, maintain clear communication, engage employees, promote a positive culture, and command respect while operating with a high emotional intelligence. Sounds like a tall order?

These are just some of the leadership characteristics organizations want to see their employees express. The question then becomes, are great leaders born that way, or can they be fostered into their role just as effectively?

Recruiting Leaders vs. Developing Leaders

A 2015 article published by HealthSource states that focusing on measurable skills alone, such as education, and previous professional experience during the hiring process isn’t enough to identify an effective leader. And this idea permeates every industry.

Specific character traits such as confidence, emotional intelligence, strategic vision, or communication may not always be visible in every leadership candidate. Likewise, pure talent and zero soft skills rarely makes for an effective leader.

Without an effective leadership development model organizations rely too heavily on recruitment and the hope that each candidate they hire will arrive with the ideal blend of talent and leadership skills.

Organizational Leadership

One of the primary goals of leadership development is to ensure the long term success of an organization, and this requires deliberate practice and a continued, company-wide commitment.

According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations fall short in their lack of intuitive, collaborative, and dynamic leadership development programs that are designed to meet the unique challenges present in today’s society.

Financially speaking, studies have shown that organizations who demonstrate the proper practices have been able to as much as double their investment in leadership development.

Now, more than ever, organizations must develop leaders who are grounded in emotional intelligence and can promote a positive culture. With demand at an all time high, organizational leadership development remains to be of the utmost importance in 2018.

Topics: Leadership Development

John Schiavone

Written by John Schiavone

John C. Schiavone is a writer and technology professional specializing in leadership development.

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