Part of the reason is that current approaches to building leadership capacity are failing to hit the mark, and many senior leaders have little confidence in their organization’s leadership development programs. This article aims to examine how organizations can close the leadership gap in their organizations by implementing an integrated approach to leadership development. Design/methodology/approach – The evolution of leadership development is discussed and a framework is presented to examine traditional approaches and consider their limitations.
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Findings – The integrated-solution approach to leadership development represents a more strategic, synergistic and sustainable way for organizations to build the leadership capacity they require to gain competitive advantage. The integrated solution is intense. It requires serious ointment on the part of organizations, their senior leaders and from HRS. The process also is more complex. In the long-term though, the integrated- solution approach delivers greater value to organizations and ensures that their investment in leadership development is optimized.
Originality/value – The article presents practical and proven strategies to overcome the leadership gap in organizations today Keywords Leadership planning, Assessment, Coaching, Learning, Experiential learning, Business Paper type Research paper any organizations are devoting considerable energy to building their leadership opacity to gain competitive advantage. However, this effort is a struggle for many. Part of the reason is that current approaches to building leadership capacity are failing to hit the mark, and many senior leaders have little confidence in their organizations’ leadership development programs. 2005 David S. Weiss and Vince Nonlinear. Excerpted and reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. This article is an adapted version of chapter 13 in the book written by DRP David Weiss and DRP Vince Nonlinear entitled The Leadership Gap: Building Leadership Capacity For Competitive Advantage (John Wiley & sons, 2005). Emerging research links an organization’s ability to develop its leadership capacity to its competitive advantage (Watson Wyatt, 2003; Welling and Weaver, 2003).
For example, a recent international study found that the more robust an company’s approach to building internal leadership capacity, the greater the financial return in critical financial measures such as shareholder returns, growth in net increase, growth in market share and return in sales[l]. There are other financial concerns with the return on investment of leadership development. For example, organizations now spend millions of dollars annually on leadership development (Merritt, 2003).
Many also are dedicating a greater portion of their overall training budgets to leadership development programs (Dalhousie, 2001 Yet organizations are largely squandering this investment and are not generating the return on their investment. This article examines how organizations can take an integrated approach to leadership development. First, we will explore the traditional approaches to leadership development and consider their limitations. Next, we will describe the steps organizations need to take to VOLVO. 38 NO. 2006, up. -11, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, SINS 0019-7858 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING ” A recent international study found that the more robust an company’s approach to building internal leadership capacity, the greater the financial return in critical financial measures such as shareholder returns, growth in net increase, growth in market share and return in sales. ” effectively implement an integrated approach to leadership development that builds strong leadership capacity. The traditional approaches to leadership development Traditionally, organizations have relied primarily on two approaches to building heir leadership capacity.
We refer to these as the single-solution approach and the multiple-solution approach. In this section we review these two approaches and consider their strengths, weaknesses and limitations. The single-solution approach The most common and extensively used approach to build leadership capacity has been the single-solution approach where organizations rely primarily on one method to build leaders. Many organizations implement the single-solution approach because they assume there is one answer, a so-called “silver bullet” that will solve their leadership gap problems.
The single-solution approach does have some advantages in that it can be easy to implement. It also ensures a certain level of consistency, since all leaders receive the same content. It also provides leaders the opportunity to come and learn together. However, the single-solution approach also has weaknesses and limitations that essentially make it ineffective as a sole strategy for building leadership capacity: B The over-reliance on the classroom as the primary method of developing leaders. The single-solution approach to leadership development uses the classroom as the primary vehicle to develop leaders.
In his book, Managers Not Mambas, Integer correctly argues that leaders are not developed solely in the classroom (Integer, 2004). The other limitation with classroom-based leadership training programs is that they are seen as being too time-consuming. Today, leaders are too busy and will not attend leadership programs that ask them to sit in a classroom for long periods of time. An overemphasis on generic leadership models. In many cases a single-solution approach to leadership development also has had a tendency to adopt generic leadership models that overemphasized personal traits and characteristics of individual leaders (Lurch, 1999).
Many of these models provide valuable insights, but leaders typically find them to be too theoretical and often disconnected from day-to-day realities of the jobs and the problems that leaders face. These models also focus too heavily on the individual leader or personal leadership and do not adequately address other important elements of leadership. This has led many organizations to think of leadership as a product or event (Ready and Conger, 2003). The multiple-solution approach Many organizations have recognized that the single-solution approach to adders development is insufficient to build leadership capacity.
These organizations implement a more evolved approach by utilizing an array of leadership development options. We refer to this as the multiple-solution approach to leadership development. This approach recognizes that simple single-solutions are insufficient and multiple-solutions are necessary to overcome the leadership gap. Today, organizations have a wide array of development options available (Saratoga Institute, 1998; McCauley et al. , 1998). PAGE 4 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOLVO. 38 NO. 1 2006
Table I summarizes the more prominent multiple-solutions development options emerging in the leadership development landscape. Organizations use four broad types of leadership development options when developing their leaders: 1 . Assessment options. 2. Coaching options. 3. Learning options. 4. Experience options. The multiple solutions approach represents a more evolved approach to leadership development. Since leaders are exposed to a greater number of development options, organizations are more effective at building their leadership capacity.
Unfortunately, these options are often implemented in fragmented manner, thereby limiting their potential value. Consider the experience of the following organization. A large insurance company prided itself on investing considerable resources in developing its leaders. Over the years it had used an impressive number of options to build its leadership capacity. These included a wide array of internal leadership development programs, the use of external coaches for senior leaders, a 360-degree assessment practices and a succession planning process.
Collectively, the financial commitment to implement these options was considerable, and the company’s CEO was starting to scrutinize them. During an executive team meeting, the CEO ask the SSP of HRS to explain why the company was spending almost three million dollars annually on leadership development. The SSP of HRS struggled to provide an answer. It soon became apparent that the variety of leadership development courses was not guided by an overall strategy. Furthermore, the company had no internal process to assess the caliber and quality of the external coaches being retained by the organization.
Upon closer examination, the organization realized that many of the leadership development practices were largely disconnected from one another. The insurance company needs to be congratulated for taking leadership development seriously and for making it a priority. However, the significant financial investment it made was not fully realized because many development options were implemented in an unplanned and fragmented manner. This case example illustrates some of the potential limitations of the multiple-solution approach to leadership development: B Lack of an overall strategy.
Many times the multiple-solution approach is not guided by an overall strategy. This leads to a lack of coordination and a disjointed approach to leadership development. It also becomes difficult to see how the array of development options add value to each other or are connected to the overall business strategy. Confusion among leaders. When organizations implement a multiple-solution approach in a fragmented manner, it routinely leads to confusion among leaders. Leaders experience the development options as a hodgepodge of discrete courses, seminars or programs. Failure to generate value for the organization.
The multiple-solution approach to leadership development can fail to generate value for the organization. When Table I Four broad types of leadership development options Assessment Coaching Learning Experience Psychometric assessment Mum Tit-rater feedback Competency assessment Assessment centers Internal coaching External coaching Mentoring Individualized development planning High profile learning events Technology-based learning options Leaders developing leaders Partnering with thought leaders Business school affiliations Development for intact teams Stretch assignments Outside positions/projects Action learning VOLVO. 8 NO. 1 2006 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 5 development options are implemented in a disjointed manner, the investment is not leveraged to its fullest extent. The need for an integrated solution A leadership gap often persists in organizations that implement either single- solution or multiple-solution approaches to leadership development. However, several factors are creating a new sense of urgency for organizations to evolve to an integrated solution to leadership development: 1 . The complex business environment.
Organizations need to understand that the emerging environment in which leaders operate today is more complex and intense. It is placing greater pressure and demands on leaders. As a result single-solution and multiple-solution approaches to leadership development are to robust enough to build the leadership capacity required today. Leadership development in today’s world needs to be more integrated and sophisticated. 2. The need to deliver results on many levels. Today, the stakes are higher, and leadership development must deliver on many levels.
It must not be done just for the sake of doing it but must achieve the following: transfer vital skills and ideas to leaders; enhance performance; reinforce corporate culture and values; drive business results; and adapt to changing business realities. In essence leadership development must be relevant, align to business strategy ND add value to leaders: 3. The high expectations of leaders. Higher expectations are being placed on organizations. First, senior executives want to ensure that their investment in leadership development is maximized and delivers on the promise to build the leadership capacity needed.
Second, the leaders who are the participants of leadership development also have extremely high expectations and want their organizations to implement integrated and high-value leadership development options. Consequently, HRS and leadership development practitioners are under tremendous pressure to deliver results. A common “failure” path is to embrace the single- and multiple-solution approaches to leadership development. 4. The need to sort through a maze of leadership development options. Leadership development is big business, and there is no shortage of development options for organizations to consider.
At times, the number of development options can be overwhelming, and business leaders may be ill equipped to identify the best ones effectively. The maze of leadership development options actually reinforces the conditions for fragmented multiple- solution approaches in organizations. Therefore, organizations need to develop he internal expertise or rely on external guidance to help them sort through the maze and identify the options that have the potential to be offered in their organization in an integrated manner.
The integrated-solution approach to leadership development The field of leadership development is in the midst of an evolution. This evolution is depicted in the Figure 1. We believe that organizations must implement what we refer to as an “integrated-solution” approach to leadership development. We define this approach as one that brings together and unites an array of development options so that they add value to one another. But there is more. The integrated- solution approach is more comprehensive, rigorous and long-term in focus. It also is more complex and requires greater commitment on the part of organizations.
In the end, it is the most effective approach to building leadership capacity and overcoming PAGE 6 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOLVO. 38 NO. 1 2006 Figure 1 The evolution in leadership development the leadership gap. There are three reasons for this. The reasons can be summarized in three “As”: 1 . Strategic. The integrated-solution ensures that all development options are focused on helping the organization gain competitive advantage. This approach involves creating a comprehensive strategy for leadership development and implementing the strategy effectively. . Synergistic. Instead of implementing a hodgepodge of discrete development options, the integrated-solution approach is more synergistic. It strives to select and implement development options in a seamless manner so that they add value to one another. 3. Sustainable. The integrated-solution approach is sustainable in that it takes a long-term perspective to leadership development. It recognizes that leadership development today is an emergent and iterative recess that needs constant attention, focus and resources.
It is not work to be delegated to an HRS department, but rather it needs to become an organizational priority. The eight steps to implementing an integrated-solution approach to leadership development Below we explore the eight steps to successfully implementing an integrated- solution approach to leadership development: 1 . Develop a comprehensive strategy for integrated leadership development. 2. Connect leadership development to the organization’s environmental challenges. 3. Use the leadership story to set the context for development. 4.
Balance global enterprise-wide needs with local individual needs. 5. Employ emergent design and implementation. 6. Ensure that development options fit the culture. 7. Focus on critical moments of the leadership lifestyle. 8. Apply a blended methodology. Step 1 : develop a comprehensive strategy for integrated leadership development The integrated solution approach begins by developing a comprehensive strategy. Most organizations have limited access to capital and people to allocate to their business strategies. The same is true when it comes to leadership development.
Organizations do not have unlimited resources or it, therefore they need to develop a strategy for integrated leadership development that optimizes the available resources and investment in a way that delivers sustainable competitive advantage for the business. One way this is accomplished is by ensuring that leadership development is not just done for the sake of doing it; instead, it supports the organization’s overall business strategy. The comprehensive strategy also ensures that development options are relevant, align to business needs and add value to leaders.
Another critical element of the leadership development strategy is a comprehensive communications plan that secularly sends messages to leaders about the organization’s VOLVO. 38 NO. 1 2006 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 7 efforts in building leadership capacity and also inculcates the organization’s leadership story. Step 2: connect leadership development to the organization’s environmental challenges The integrated-solution approach is effective because it connects leadership development to the organization’s new environmental challenges.
It focuses its effort on helping leaders develop the capacity needed to lead effectively in future environments. Connecting leadership development to n organization’s environmental challenges creates focus and ensures that leadership development is being used to prepare leaders to succeed in the future. A global technology company was a leader in its marketplace. The company had several years of consistent growth, but in recent years growth began to decline and become stagnant. Past success was a function of the company successfully being a niche player in its market.
The senior leadership team recognized it was time to change the business strategy. They decided to implement volume market strategy. This change created a leadership gap in the organization because the ewe business model established a new set of expectations for leaders. Now they needed to be more externally focused. Leaders needed to identify new customers and create a new stream of products for these new customers. The UP HRS was charged with the responsibility to build the leadership capacity needed to help the organization succeed and implement the new business model.
They identified three core leadership skills that had the greatest potential to contribute to the business from a strategic perspective. The first was the ability to understand the new business environment and expectations of new customers. The second was the ability to lead change internally within the organization. The third was the ability to coach and engage staff in the new business model. They decided to launch a company-wide coaching initiative. This approach was directed to all leaders, but delivered to intact departments and business units to ensure the learning immediately transferred to key business priorities.
They also implemented a blended approach which included self- assessment, learning sessions, webmasters, and follow-up “booster sessions” to sustain the learning. Connecting leadership development to an organization’s ewe environmental challenges creates focus and ensures that leadership development is being used to prepare leaders to succeed in the future. Step 3: use the leadership story to set the context for development Organizations need to have a compelling story that communicates to employees the organization’s philosophy and its approach to leadership.
The story becomes part of the folklore of the organization and creates an expectation of leadership to behave consistently with the story and its message. An integrated-solution approach to leadership development uses the leadership story to set the context or development. The story tells the organization why leadership is important and how leaders will be developed. The story also creates a well-delineated leadership model that clearly articulates what leadership means to the organization.
The model then serves as a focal point for defining development options. Step 4: balance global enterprise-wide needs with local individual needs In Managing Across Borders, Bartlett and Shoal explain the need for global businesses to balance the forces for global efficiency with the forces that require local responsiveness within a market place (Bartlett and Shoal, 1989). This is an important concept that also is ” Leadership development in today’s world needs to be more integrated and sophisticated. PAGE 8 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOLVO. 38 NO. 1 2006 relevant to integrated leadership development. Organizations must strive to balance the global or enterprise-wide development needs of an organization with local responsiveness of a leader’s individual development needs. Therefore organizations must identify development options that are needed by all leaders of the organization such as creating a common leadership culture, enhancing ore leadership competencies and responding to changes in the business environment.
The organization must also identify development options that target individual needs on the part of key talent and future incumbents for critical positions, and on the part of leadership needs in specific departments and business units. Step 5: employ an emergent way to design and implement leadership development A UP HRS for a large professional services firm recently commented: Effective leadership development is a marathon! This statement reflects the work required to design and implement an integrated-solution approach to leadership development.
In fact, one of the reasons why the single-solution approach still exists is that it is fairly easy to implement. The integrated-solution approach is far more complex and challenging to implement. The approach suggests that effective leadership development is emergent in that organizations must continually be in touch with what is happening in the business and be ready to respond to it.. The organization must constantly be looking for opportunities to improve the development options because leaders learn through a constant process of earning, relearning and unlearning.