CCL has been studying leaders and their development for 40 years. Many of our practices have become “tried-and-true” ways to develop leaders and leadership. Here, we highlight ideas, strategies and tactics that we have developed and refined over many years and by working with many thousands of clients.

Connecting Leader Development with Organizational Needs

Leader development systems do more than just produce effective leaders; they also serve broader organizational needs. That may seem like an obvious point, but aligning individual leadership skills with the organizational direction isn’t a simple task.

CCL’s Cynthia D. McCauley, Kim Kanaga and Kim Lafferty help demystify the process in the chapter, “Leader Development Systems” in The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development.

“Developing leaders includes enhancing their performance in current roles, improving their ability to carry out the tasks of leadership in ways congruent with changing organizational realities, and, for some, expanding their capacity to take on higher positions,” they write. “With a continuing need for effective leaders, organizations set up various processes, practices, activities and roles to develop them; in other words, they craft leader development systems.”

A first step in being more intentional and mindful about the organization’s leader development system is to assess how well the organization’s needs for effective leaders are being met and to identify important gaps. Questions about performance, succession management and leadership implications of change are all important, including:

  • What percentage of current leaders are meeting performance standards?
  • To what extent are performance standards being met across all types of leadership positions?
  • What do current leaders do really well? On what dimensions do they need to improve their performance?
  • To what extent does the organization have adequate numbers of individuals being prepared for higher management positions?
  • How diverse is the pool of high potentials and how well do they meet organizational needs?
  • Will more or different types of management positions be created as a result of organizational change? Will these positions be filled by internal staff or hired from the outside?
  • What leader competencies will be particularly important for executing the business strategy? To what degree do current leaders have these competencies?
  • What organizational beliefs and values will be particularly important for executing the strategy?

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