Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Architecting a Comprehensive Leadership Development Framework

 -  3/27/06

Developing effective leaders is essential to any organization's success. A comprehensive, integrated system provides a process to generate new leaders who can ensure their business stays ahead of the competition.

“A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term.”
– Robert Reich, Author, Professor, U.S. Secretary of Labor (1993-1997)

Two people were out walking in the woods when they came across a large, hungry bear. They immediately turned and started running with the bear close behind. Suddenly one stops, sits down and begins changing his shoes, putting on a pair of sneakers he had pulled from his backpack. “What are you doing?” asks the first person, “You can’t outrun that bear!” The other person replied, “I don’t have to out run the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Effective leadership development systems are crucial to the enduring success of any organization. Yet often, as in the parable above, organizations are running too fast to stop, design and execute these systems in a consistent fashion. A popular belief held by many executives today is that sufficient leadership development happens informally, “running through the woods” and throwing off advice to high-potentials along the way. In truth, although informal learning is a critical part of the practice and reinforcement of new skills, it is the underlying framework of a development system that sustains top-performing organizations over time and produces effective leaders from one generation to the next.

Executive and Board Sponsorship
It takes time and commitment to develop leaders. These are farsighted virtues, and today’s corporate leadership is challenged more each year to defend their practice. Western cultures, investors in particular, have grown steadily less patient over the past decade, demanding near-instant returns and gratification. This has placed tremendous pressure on executive leadership to sacrifice long-term growth for immediate gains.

According to a Booz Allen Hamilton study of the world’s 2,500 largest corporations, the average tenure of a CEO departing for performance-related reasons declined from 7.0 to 4.6 years between 1995 and 2001. That’s not much time for a chief executive to build a sustainable leadership development system, much less benefit from any significant investment. It’s no wonder that, according to a Hewitt Associates study, only 56 percent of CEOs in lower-performing organizations actively participate in the development of new leadership.


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