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Integrated leadership developmentDavid Weiss and Vince MolinaroDavid Weiss is the Vice AbstractPresident and Chief Purpose – Leaders’ capacity has become mission-critical in many organizations today. However, thisInnovations Ofﬁcer at business challenge is a struggle for many. Part of the reason is that current approaches to buildingKnightsbridge, Toronto, leadership capacity are failing to hit the mark, and many senior leaders have little conﬁdence in theirOntario, Canada. Vince organization’s leadership development programs. This article aims to examine how organizations canMolinaro is the Principal at close the leadership gap in their organizations by implementing an integrated approach to leadershipKnightsbridge, Oakville, development.Ontario, Canada. Design/methodology/approach – The evolution of leadership development is discussed and a framework is presented to examine traditional approaches and consider their limitations. 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 commitment on the part of organizations, their senior leaders and from HR. 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 M capacity 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. Emerging research links an organization’s ability to develop its leadership capacity to its competitive advantage (Watson Wyatt, 2003; Wellins 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 inq 2005 David S. Weiss andVince Molinaro. Excerpted and sales. There are other ﬁnancial concerns with the return on investment of leadershipreprinted with permission of the development. For example, organizations now spend millions of dollars annually onpublisher, John Wiley & SonsCanada Ltd. leadership development (Merritt, 2003). Many also are dedicating a greater portion of their overall training budgets to leadership development programs (Delahoussaye, 2001). YetThis article is an adapted organizations are largely squandering this investment and are not generating the return onversion of chapter 13 in thebook written by Dr David Weiss their investment.and Dr Vince Molinaro entitledThe Leadership Gap: Building This article examines how organizations can take an integrated approach to leadershipLeadership Capacity ForCompetitive Advantage (John development. First, we will explore the traditional approaches to leadership developmentWiley & Sons, 2005). and consider their limitations. Next, we will describe the steps organizations need to take to VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006, pp. 3-11, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858 j INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING j PAGE 3
‘‘ 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 their 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 MBAs, Mintzberg correctly argues that leaders are not developed solely in the classroom (Mintzberg, 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. B 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 (Ulrich, 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 leadership 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). j jPAGE 4 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 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 a 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 SVP of HR to explain why the company was spending almost three million dollars annually on leadership development. The SVP of HR 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. B 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. B Failure to generate value for the organization. The multiple-solution approach to leadership development can fail to generate value for the organization. WhenTable I Four broad types of leadership development optionsAssessment Coaching Learning ExperiencePsychometric assessment Internal coaching Individualized development planning Stretch assignmentsMulti-rater feedback External coaching High proﬁle learning events Outside positions/projectsCompetency assessment Mentoring Technology-based learning options Action learningAssessment centers Leaders developing leaders Partnering with thought leaders Business school afﬁliations Development for intact teams j j VOL. 38 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 not 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: B transfer vital skills and ideas to leaders; B enhance performance; B reinforce corporate culture and values; B drive business results; and B adapt to changing business realities. In essence leadership development must be relevant, align to business strategy and 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, HR 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 the 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 j jPAGE 6 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006
Figure 1 The evolution in leadership developmentthe leadership gap. There are three reasons for this. The reasons can be summarized inthree ‘‘Ss’’: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.2. 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 process that needs constant attention, focus and resources. It is not work to be delegated to an HR department, but rather it needs to become an organizational priority.The eight steps to implementing an integrated-solution approach to leadershipdevelopmentBelow we explore the eight steps to successfully implementing an integrated-solutionapproach 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 lifecycle.8. Apply a blended methodology.Step 1: develop a comprehensive strategy for integrated leadership developmentThe integrated solution approach begins by developing a comprehensive strategy. Mostorganizations have limited access to capital and people to allocate to their businessstrategies. The same is true when it comes to leadership development. Organizations do nothave unlimited resources for it, therefore they need to develop a strategy for integratedleadership development that optimizes the available resources and investment in a way thatdelivers sustainable competitive advantage for the business. One way this is accomplishedis by ensuring that leadership development is not just done for the sake of doing it; instead, itsupports the organization’s overall business strategy. The comprehensive strategy alsoensures that development options are relevant, align to business needs and add value toleaders. Another critical element of the leadership development strategy is a comprehensivecommunications plan that regularly sends messages to leaders about the organization’s j j VOL. 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 an 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 new 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 VP HR 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, webcasts, and follow-up ‘‘booster sessions’’ to sustain the learning. Connecting leadership development to an organization’s new 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 for 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 Ghoshal 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 Ghoshal, 1989). This is an important concept that also is ‘‘ Leadership development in today’s world needs to be more integrated and sophisticated. ’’ j jPAGE 8 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006
relevant to integrated leadership development. Organizations must strive to balance theglobal or enterprise-wide development needs of an organization with local responsivenessof a leader’s individual development needs. Therefore organizations must identifydevelopment options that are needed by all leaders of the organization such as creatinga common leadership culture, enhancing core leadership competencies and responding tochanges in the business environment. The organization must also identify developmentoptions that target individual needs on the part of key talent and future incumbents for criticalpositions, and on the part of leadership needs in speciﬁc departments and business units.Step 5: employ an emergent way to design and implement leadership developmentA VP HR 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-solutionapproach to leadership development. In fact, one of the reasons why the single-solutionapproach still exists is that it is fairly easy to implement. The integrated-solution approach isfar more complex and challenging to implement. The approach suggests that effectiveleadership development is emergent in that organizations must continually be in touch withwhat is happening in the business and be ready to respond to it..The organization must constantly be looking for opportunities to improve the developmentoptions because leaders learn through a constant process of learning, relearning andunlearning. Therefore the design and implementation needs to be emergent rather thanstatic, it needs to be ﬂexible and fast because the business world moves fast and leadershipsolutions must keep up.This emergent way of designing and implementing leadership development is reﬂected inthe following case example of a management consulting ﬁrm. This ﬁrm effectively used achange in organizational structure as an opportunity to build the leadership capacity of itsfuture leadership talent.The senior leadership was concerned that their partners’ average age was close to 50 yearsold. The ﬁrm was very successful and so was its partners’ performance. However, theyworried about the viability of the ﬁrm in ﬁve to ten years as the partnership aged. They alsorealized that they had become partners in their early 40s, but they in turn were not providingleadership opportunities to the current 40-year-old leaders. They needed to expose theiryounger talent to the full scope of the leadership challenges in a management consultingﬁrm without dismantling the successful leadership model that was in place.They decided to create another kind of management role for the future leaders. Theystructured them regionally with managing partners and partners leading each of the regionsacross the country. They decided to create a parallel structure of ‘‘national practice leaders’’who would have cross-country practice area leadership responsibilities. The youngerleaders were given these roles, reporting directly to the president of the entire ﬁrm. Thenational practice leaders were responsible for the development of the next evolution ofproducts and services in that practice area and the country-wide sales performance for thepractice area, and they participated in the annual strategic planning process.Step 6: ensure that development options ﬁt the cultureAt times organizations fail at building leadership capacity because they implementdevelopment options that do not ﬁt their culture. The integrated-solution approach strives toensure that the development options ﬁt both the culture and the organization’s ‘‘readiness.’’Consider the following example.In a large engineering ﬁrm, the VP of HR wanted to implement an assessment centerprocess to launch a signiﬁcant leadership development initiative. In initial discussions withmembers of the executive team, the VP found signiﬁcant resistance to the idea. The CEOwas concerned about the level of ﬁnancial commitment required and the ability of the ﬁrm todo this well, given the other organizational priorities. Upon further reﬂection, the VP of HR j j VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 9
‘‘ 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. ’’ recognized that the organization was not ready for this type of solution. The organization did not yet have a culture in which leaders were open to receiving the feedback that an assessment center would generate. Rather than force this upon the leaders and risk failure, the VP of HR introduced a staged approach. In the ﬁrst year of the initiative, an online self-assessment tool was implemented that gave leaders the opportunity to assess themselves based on the organization’s leadership competencies. In the second year of the initiative, the VP of HR implemented a multi-rater assessment. Now leaders were assessed on the leadership competencies by direct reports, managers and peers. In year three, the VP of HR introduced an assessment center process and focused it ﬁrst on the high-potential candidates. Though this approach was more complex and took considerably longer to implement, it was in the end more effective because it respected the culture and readiness of the engineering ﬁrm. Step 7: focus on critical moments of the leadership lifecycle The integrated-solution approach also focuses its attention on critical moments along a leader’s lifecycle. These are times when leaders transition to new roles, such as the ﬁrst time an employee becomes a manager of people or the ﬁrst time a leader becomes an executive. Each transition in role presents new challenges and pressures. To succeed, new leaders need to develop new ways of thinking about their roles. These also are moments when leaders are at the greatest risk of failing or derailing. The integrated-solution approach concentrates activities to support leaders through the transition points in their leadership lifecycle. Step 8: apply a blended methodology The blended methodology suggests that development options from assessment, coaching, learning and experience are selected and organized in a way so that they are aligned, seamlessly adding value to one another. These development options are not seen as being separate and distinct from one another, but rather as parts of an overall integrated approach to leadership development. This does not mean that all development options need to be blended. However, increasingly we are seeing organizations take a blended approach to leadership development and create robust offerings that blend some form of assessment, coaching, learning and experience. Closing comments 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 commitment on the part of organizations, their senior leaders and from HR. 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. Note 1. Watson Wyatt (2003, p. 24) found that the perceived quality of an organization’s leadership development activities has a direct impact on ﬁnancial outcomes (revenue growth, proﬁtability, market share). A total of 34 percent of organizations that had superior ﬁnancial performance also j jPAGE 10 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006
had high-quality leadership development programs. In contrast, only 6 percent of those organizations that had below-average ﬁnancial performance had high-quality leadership development programs.ReferencesBartlett, C.A. and Ghoshal, S. (1989), Managing across Boarders, Harvard Business School Press,Boston, MA.Delahoussaye, M. (2001), ‘‘Leadership in the 21st century’’, Training, September, pp. 60-72.McCauley, C., Moxley, R.S. and Van Velsor, E. (1998), The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook ofLeadership Development, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA.Merritt, J. (2003), ‘‘The education edge’’, BusinessWeek, October.Mintzberg, H. (2004), Managers not MBAs, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA.Ready, D.A. and Conger, J.A. (2003), ‘‘Why leadership development efforts fail’’, MIT SloanManagement Review, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 83-9.Saratoga Institute (1998), Leadership Development: Programs and Practices, Future Directions,Examples and Models, Saratoga Institute, Santa Clara, CA.Ulrich, D., Smallwood, N. and Zenger, J. (1999), Results-Based Leadership, Harvard Business SchoolPress, Boston, MA.Watson Wyatt (2003), ‘‘Leadership: the critical key to ﬁnancial success’’, Drake Business Review, Vol. 1No. 1, pp. 21-5.Wellins, R.S. and Weaver, P.S. Jr (2003), ‘‘From C-level to see-level’’, T&D Magazine, September.About the authorsDr David Weiss is Vice President and Chief Innovations Ofﬁcer of the ﬁrm KnightsbridgeGSW. David is the author of three books, Beyond the Walls of Conﬂict (McGraw Hill, 1996),High Performance HR (Wiley, 2000) and the co-author of The Leadership Gap (Wiley, 2005).David also is a Senior Fellow of the Industrial Relations Centre of Queen’s University, a facultymember of the Technion Institute of Management, and an honored member of theInternational Who’s Who of Professionals. See www.knightsbridge.ca for more information.Dr Vince Molinaro is a Principal and National Practice Leader of Leadership Capability in theﬁrm of Knightsbridge GSW. Vince is a global pioneer in the ﬁeld of holistic leadership. He haspublished many articles and co-authored The Leadership Gap (Wiley, 2005). Vince also is anadjunct professor at Brock University. See www.knightsbridge.ca for more information.To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: email@example.comOr visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints j j VOL. 38 NO. 1 2006 INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL TRAINING PAGE 11