+ | - | reset

Discover how to design and implement a highly effective leadership development strategy that will serve your organisation both today and tomorrow.

The demands on leaders in today’s workplaces are almost unrecognisable from those of 20 years ago. Rapid change and ongoing disruption brought on by the digital revolution have become the norm rather than the exception. With it, the responsibilities and skills required to be an effective leader of people and performance have been permanently redefined.

According to Forbes, “Leading a company [in 2024] is more than just about managing teams or bottom-line growth. Leaders must exhibit adaptability, resilience and an empathic understanding of their teams while maintaining mental and emotional health.”

In this environment, how can you ensure the quality of leadership that can deliver on the ever-evolving demands of the world in which we work and meet your organisation’s goals? It all comes down to your leadership development strategy.

Creating an Effective Leadership Development Strategy

At Korn Ferry, we see leadership development not as a destination, but as an ongoing journey. It’s a journey that combines organisational needs with individual growth by learning from others, embracing new experiences and challenges, understanding emotional responses, and fostering curious, open minds.

In designing a highly effective leadership development strategy for today and tomorrow, leadership development leads should be aiming to:

  • Enhance skillsets while fostering a positive mindset that drives behavioral change and creates leaders who are more effectively engaged with their teams, their organisation and their peers.
  • Chart pathways for succession and allow people to grow into more significant roles while your organisation benefits from a steady pipeline of ready leaders.
  • Cultivate social bonds around shared vision and purpose, promoting collaboration and collective impact.

From working with the world’s top-performing companies, we’ve identified three hallmarks of highly effective leadership strategies that deliver these essential outcomes in this changing world of work.

1. Blended, Adaptive Approaches to Learning

When challenges arise, it’s human nature to default to behaviors and ways of thinking that have served us well in the past. But as the responsibilities and expectations of leaders in today’s workplace evolve, effective leadership development should nurture and cement a range of personal and professional behaviors that are more closely aligned to the realities of the modern work environment.

Part of this is recognising that there’s no single way of learning. There are as many people who excel through one-to-one coaching as there are those who thrive in group or cohort-based learning situations. Incorporating a range of learning styles is an essential ingredient in keeping participants engaged and embedding what you’re teaching.

When adapting your approach to developing leaders, you’ll want to promote adaptability within your leaders as well. This is called ‘learning agility’, and it’s a top predictor of a leadership potential profile, because learning-agile people are the kind of people who will gain the most from their experiences and assignments.

Curiosity, risk-taking and reflection are central to learning agility. Agile learners possess a few key traits that are known to produce success in leadership development:

  • Motivation: Agile learners are typically curious. They’re not afraid of taking on challenging situations. They’re not afraid to take risks and have a healthy resistance to the fear of failure.
  • Ability: Agile learners learn by doing. They have an innate ability to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory through hands-on learning and then relating their individual experience back to the concept at hand.
  • Application: As well as embracing challenges, agile learners excel at taking what they learn from a challenge and applying it to their personal behaviors and professional skill sets. Mindfulness and other types of reflection also play an important role in their effectiveness at learning new things.

2. Learning Grounded in Your Culure and Ways of Working

Alongside recognising the different ways in which people learn the most effectively, having a clear and well-defined direction is essential for effective leadership development. Understanding your business culture and organisational goals enables you to create a leadership development framework that gives shape and meaning to your strategy and establishes a benchmark for what leadership development success looks like.

Part of this involves identifying where you are now, and where you want to be. The ‘gap’ between the two highlights where the biggest opportunities for leadership development lies. Think of it as the ‘meat in the sandwich’ that bridges the distance between your current situation and where your leadership development framework should take your organisation.

Leaders learn best when they connect new information and skills to their own experience, making contextual learning another important part of leadership development. Contextual learning—applying new skills and knowledge to real-life situations in the workplace—has many benefits for developing leaders.

Contextual learning:

  • Encourages collaboration for problem solving
  • Draws out creative thinkers
  • Prioritises and develops clarity of purpose
  • Acts as a potent change agent within organisations looking to redefine their business strategy.

Contextual learning is a means for helping leaders discover who they need to be, and what they need to do to develop to their fullest potential.

3. Accurate Assessment of Your Leaders and Organisation

Genuine, effective leadership development relies heavily on working with accurate and robust data and information. Accordingly, best-practice assessment is an important hallmark in your leadership development strategy.

When we say ‘best-practice assessment’, we’re talking about assessment that benchmarks with real-world, current information, so you can measure your organisation against other industry, sector and specific business metrics.

Best-practice assessment should also draw from a rigorous methodology for uncovering your organisation’s culture, its strengths, and where it can improve. In many ways, this assessment hallmark is intrinsically linked to the second hallmark. If you don’t truly understand your organisation through assessment, how can you expect to embed learning in your culture and ways of working?

Start Developing Your Leaders Today

The pace and the magnitude of change means that organisations need to have more effective leadership development strategies in place than ever before.

Part of an effective leadership strategy involves providing multiple learning methods that encourage agile learning. You’ll also want leadership learning that’s grounded in your organisational culture and on-the-job experiences — contextual learning. And you’ll want to formulate your leadership development framework based on reliable and robust data that has pinpointed exactly where your organisation has skill and knowledge gaps.

Incorporating the three hallmarks of effective leadership development into your leadership strategy will ensure your organisation is prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Learn more about how the right leadership development partner sets you up for success.

The article was first published here.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.

Rate this article

0 / 5. 0

Is this article good for you?