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Leadership Development: Past, Present, And Future

Leadership Development: Past, Present, And Future

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08/04/2012

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Leadership Development:Past, Present, and Future
Gina Hernez-Broome, Richard L. Hughes, Center for Creative Leadership
T
his article reviews notabletrends in the leadershipdevelopment field. In thepast two decades, suchtrends included the proliferationof new leadership developrnent meth-ods and a growing recognition of theimportance of a leader's emotionalresonance with others. A growingrecognition that leadership develop-ment involves more than just devel-oping individual leaders has now ledto a greater focus on the context inwhich leadership is developed,thoughtful consideration about howto best use leadership competencies,and work/life balance issues. Futuretrends include exciting potentialadvances in globalization, technolo-gy, return on investment (ROI),and new ways of thinking aboutthe nature of leadership and leader-ship development.
24 HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING
 
The Past
Looking back at the stale of leadership andleadership development over the past 20 years,we were surprised to discover more than adecade passed before
HRP
first contained anarticle with the word "leadership" in its title. Atthe risk of making too much out of mere titles,we note with interest the contrast between thatearly period and the tact that leadership develop-ment is now one
oiHRPs
five key knowledge
areas.
The last two decades have witnessedsomething ot an explosion of interest in leader-ship development in organizations. Some of themost noteworthy issues and trends in the fieldof leadership development in the past 20 yearsfall under these two general headings:
1.
The proliferation of leadership developmentmethods:
2.
The importance of a leader's
emotionat
reso-nance with and impact on others.
Proliferation of Leadership DevelopmentMethods
One clear trend over the past 20years has been the increasing useand recognition of the potency of avariety of developmental experi-
ences.
Classroom-type leadershiptraining—for long the primary/ormcj/development mode—is now comple-mented (or even supplanted) byactivities as diverse as high ropescourses or retlcctive journaling.Classroom training should not bethe only part of a leadership develop-ment initiative, and may be the least critical.While training may even be a necessary elementof leadership development, developmental experi-ences are likely to have the greatest impact whenthey can be linked to or embedded in a person'songoing work and when they are an integrated setof experiences. Activities like coaching, mentoring,action learning, and 360-degree feedback areincreasingly key elements of leadership develop-ment initiatives.Developmental relationships primarily taketwo forms: coaching and mentoring. Coachinginvolves practical, goal-focused forms of one-on-one learning and. ideally, behavioral change(Hali, et al., 1999). It can be a short-term inter-vention intended to develop specific leadershipskills or a more extensive process involving aseries of meetings over time. The most effective
Using job assign-ments for develop-mental purposesprovides benefitsthat go beyond get-ting the job done.
coaching allows for collaboration to assess andunderstand the developmental task to challengecurrent constraints while exploring new possibili-
ties,
and to ensure accountability and support forreaching goals and sustaining development (Ting& Hart. 2004). Mentoring is typically defined asa committed, long-term relationship in which a.senior person supports the personal and profes-sional development of a junior person. It maybe a formal program or a much more informalprocess. Recognizing the value of mentoring,organizations are increasingly looking at ways toformalize these types of relationships as part oftheir leadership development efforts.Action learning is a set of organization devel-opment practices in which important real-timeorganizational problems are tackled. Three kindsof objectives are sought: delivering measurableorganizational results, communicating learningsspecific to a particular context, and developingmore general leadership skills and capabilities(Palus & Horth. 2003). Effective action learningmay range from tacit, unfacilitated learning atwork to focused and high-impact learning pro-jects to transformations of peopleand organizations (Marsick, 2002).Challenging job assignments are apotent form of leadership developmentand provide many of the develop-mental opportunities in organizationstoday. The level of organizationalinvolvement in making job assign-ments part of their leadership devel-opment process runs the gamutfrom simply providing people withinformation about developmentalopportunities in their current job to a systematicprogram of job rotation. Using job assignmentsfor developmental purposes provides benefitsthat go beyond getting the job done and mayeven result in competitive advantages for theorganization (Ohiott. 2004).One developmental method has been so perva-sive that it de.serves somewhat greater attention
here:
the use of 360-degree feedback to assessleader competencies. Chappelow (2004) recentlynoted that perhaps the most remarkable trend inthe field of leader development over the past 20years has been the popularity and growth of 360-degree feedback. Others called it one of the mostnotable management innovations of the pastdecade (Atwater & Waldman. 1998: London &Beatty, 1993). To help those organizations disap-pointed with 360-degree feedback results, here is
HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING 25
 
some of what we have learned over the yearsabout how to implement them effectively(Chappelow. 2004):1. An as.sessmeiit activity is not necessarilydevelopmental. Three-hundred-sixty-degreefeedback should not be a stand-alone event. Inaddition to assessment there need to be devel-opment planning and follow-up activities.
2.
Boss support is critical for the process
itself,
as well as for buy-in for the recipient'sspecific developmental goals stemmingfrom the feedback.
3.
The 360-degree feedback process works bestif it starts with executives at the
top
of anorganization and cascades downward through-out the organization.
4.
Shoddy administration of a 360-degree feed-back process can be fatal.
5.
The timing of the process accounts for otherorganizational realities that could dilute orconfound its impact.Another kind of leadership developmentmethod gaining popularity during the ^^^^^past 20 years has involved teams(Ginnett, 1990). The prevalence andimportance of teams in organizationstoday, and the unique challenges ofleading teams, make it easy to forgetthat teams were
not
always so perva-sive a part of our organizational lives.One way to convey the magnitude ofthat shift is to share an anecdoteinvolving one of our colleagues.During his doctoral work in organiza-tional behavior at Yale about 20 years
ago.
our colleague Robert Ginnettwould tell others about his special
Development todaymeans providingpeople opportuni-ties to learn fromtheir work ratherthan taking themaway from theirwork to learn.
interest in the leadership of teams. Routinely, he
says,
they would assume he musi be an athleticcoach; who else, they'd say. would be interestedin teams?
Importance of a Leader'sEmotional Resonance withand Impact on Others
Twenty years ago. our understanding of lead-ership in organizations was dominated by theclassic two-factor approach focusing on task andrelationship behaviors. That general approachcan be characterized as
transactiona!
in nature,as distinguished from a qualitatively differentapproach often described as
transformational.
Transactional leadership is characterized bymutually beneficial exchanges between partiesto optimize mutual benefit including the accom-plishment of necessary organizational tasks. Theexchange-model nature of transactional leadershiptends to produce predictable and somewhat short-lived outcomes. Transformational leadershiptouched followers' deeper values and sense ofhigher purpose, and led to higher levels of fol-lower commitment and effort and inore enduringchange. Transformational leaders provide com-pelling visions of a better future and inspire trustthrough seemingly unshakeable self-confidenceand conviction.Conger (1999) reviewed 15 years" research inthe related fields of charismatic and transforma-tional leadership, and observed that scholarlyinterest in these areas may be traceable to changesin the global competitive business environment atthat time such as competitive pressures to rein-vent themselves and challenges to employeecommitment. Prior to that time, leadershipresearchers generally had not distinguishedbetween the roles of leading and managing: Aperson in any position of authoritywas largely assumed to hold a leader-ship role. It was a novel idea thatleadership and management mightrepresent ditterent kinds of roles andbehaviors. Hunt (1999) was evenmore blunt about the state of scholar-ly research in the field t>f leadershipin the 1980s. He described it as agloom-and-doom period character-ized by boring work, inconsequentialquestions, and static answers.Research in the areas of transforma-tional and charismatic leadership bothenergized scholars and interestedorganizational practitioners.One factor presumably underlying the interestin charismatic and transformational leaders is thenature and strength of their emotional impact onothers. The nature of the leader's emotional con-nectedness to others is also apparent in the growinginterest over the past decade in topics like theleader's genuineness, authenticity, credibility, andtrustworthiness (Goleman, et al., 2002; Collins,2001). These seem related more to the
affective
quality of a leader's relationships with others thanto specific leader behaviors and competencies.Attention given during the last decade to the con-cept of emotional intelligence also attests to thatshifting interest. For example, Goleman, et al.(2002) present data that a leader's ability to
26 HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING

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