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.

Why develop leaders?

Organizations develop leaders for three main purposes, according to CCL’s Cynthia D. McCauley, Kim Kanaga and Kim Lafferty. They write about leader development systems in a chapter of the new edition of The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development.

Three purposes commonly direct an organization’s development of leaders:

  • Performance improvement. An organization needs leaders who are highly effective in their roles, so it invests in strategies and tactics to develop leaders in this regard. For example, it might provide first-time supervisors with special training to help them better understand their new role and develop skills needed in that role.
  • Succession management. Organizations need some leaders who can effectively move up in the organization. Therefore, they invest in identifying high-potential leaders and giving them extra developmental attention.
  • Organizational change. Many organizations have adopted strategies that emphasize growth through acquisitions, emerging markets, innovation, globalization or operational efficiency. Typically these organizational change initiatives require new behaviors, skills or competencies from leaders. Processes are then put in place to develop and support these new leader capabilities.

Underneath these broad goals, organizations target needs that are unique to their current circumstances.

If you are evaluating your current leader development systems, ask yourself which of the three broad areas are most important? What areas of your leader development system need more attention?

Next month: questions to help you assess how well the organization’s needs for effective leaders are being met and to identify important gaps.

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