Many programs simply place the focus on individual leader skill development relative to the tasks and roles of leadership.
Much like the term leadership, defining leadership development is also a complex task. Various authors choose to discuss leadership development as a process without including an operational definition. Davies (1994) contends that describing and defining leadership development is nearly impossible, comparing leadership development to a piece of music which is best understood after experiencing it. Sindell and Hoang (2001, p.1) propose that leadership development is “a transition-oriented process that involves practice, feedback, and self-awareness.” Sindell and Hoang continue to expand upon their definition by describing the characteristics of effective leadership development programs which include empowering the leader to develop skills and competencies, providing a tool for retaining human capital, providing the foundation for succession planning, and focusing on how leaders lead, develop and partner with their employees. If pressed to provide a definition, many authors, refer to the work of McCauley and Van Velsor, (2004, p.1) who suggest that leadership development is “the expansion of a person’s capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes. Leadership roles and processes are those that enable groups of people to work together in productive and meaningful ways.”
Day (2001) makes the distinction between leader development and leadership development by defining leader development as focused on the individual and leadership development as focused on the relationship with others. While he doesn’t cite the Goleman, et.al., (2002) research and development of the four competency areas for emotional intelligence, they are closely aligned. In table 1, Day includes the competency skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation for individual leader development and social awareness, social skills and other relational skills in the area of leadership development. When one compares these skills with Goleman’s emotional intelligence theory (see list in table 2), there is a striking resemblance. Both Goleman and Day, as well as a host of other scholars, are asserting is that for a leader to develop holistically, their development must address both internal (self) issues as well as external concerns (other). These are key distinctions since many leadership development programs simply place the focus on individual leader skill development relative to the tasks and roles of leadership.
Similarly, a third group of authors, McCauley and Van Velsor (2004) proposed a set of developmental criteria (see table 3) for individuals in leadership development programs which is based on six questions that encourage reflection regarding the development of leadership training programs. These questions are “what does it take to be an effective leader: what aspects of a leader’s talents are hard-wired and what are developable; how do people learn important leadership skills and perspectives: do some people learn more than others from leadership experiences; what are the necessary ingredients for stimulating development in leaders; and what are the best strategies for enhancing leader development?” The authors follow up their list of questions by asserting that leadership development is about the development of self-management skills, social capabilities, and work facilitation capabilities. While the McCauley and VanVelsor model is strikingly similar to that provided by Day (2001) and Goleman, et.al. (2002), this model adds the component of work function skills.
All the aforementioned authors support the concept that a bridge must be constructed between leader and leadership development in order to have an integrated strategy. The bridge is a very useful analogy as it allows us to view the separate components of leadership development which flow back and forth and yet have true separation. Day (2002) summarizes his beliefs about leadership development by stating that effective leadership development is more about consistent and intentional implementation of practices than which specific practices are endorsed.
Thus, a major emphasis for Imago Performance includes both personal development processes along with relationship building practices to build and sustain both leader and leadership competencies.
To Your Success!
- Davis, G. (1994). Looking at developing leadership. Management Development Review, 7(1), 16-19.
- Day, D. (2001). Leadership Development: A review in context. Leadership Quarterly, 11 (4), 581-613.
- Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
- McCauley, D., & Van Velsor, E. (Eds.). (2004). The center for creative leadership handbook of leadership development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Sindell, M. & Hoang, T. (2001). Leadership development. Info Line. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.