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Architecting a Comprehensive Leadership Development Framework

The matrix of development areas is then blessed and accepted as the universal curriculum of the leadership “college” within the broader corporate “university.” The limitation—and thus, the challenge—of using this pipeline element alone is that the curriculum often reflects neither the immediate objectives of the organization, nor the personal needs of any one individual. On the other hand, without the pipeline element, organizational initiatives alone are often dubbed the flavor of the month and their perceived value is greatly reduced. Thus, it’s important to integrate all three elements for a sustainable development system.

Individual Assessment and Development Plan: There’s no better way to capture an employee’s awareness and motivation than through an individual assessment and development plan. Although using multi-rater surveys to identify individual skill gaps has been in practice for years, few instruments have taken the critical next steps of identifying a personal development plan that maximizes those strengths.

In their book “The Extraordinary Leader,” Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman outline 16 universal competencies within five core values, which form the leadership tent floor of their development framework.

The idea is that once an individual’s peers have provided online feedback on his or her capabilities, the system identifies perceived strengths relative to the top 10 percent of all participants. It then helps each individual map out the tactical steps for maximizing the development of those extraordinary talents.

Whether you embrace this particular model or one like it, creating some form of individualized development plan is a critical component of an effective leadership system. Without it, employees are subject to years of participation within a generic curriculum that might never identify, much less enhance, their own unique skills and talents.

In the aggregate, these three elements will present managers and their direct reports with a thorough roadmap for development each year. By working together, they can discuss which components to embrace and which to dismiss, and arrive at a realistic and personalized design. For the manager, it’s an opportunity to influence and align the employee’s development with the needs of the organization. For the employee, it will represent a balanced diet of what they must learn (organizational objectives), what they should learn (leadership pipeline) and what they want to learn (individual assessment).



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