Leadership Development: In the News

Leadership matters and businesses are taking notice. An Accenture study found that companies with strong leadership grew 900% over ten years, compared to those who were poorly led and only grew 74%. This is a substantial difference that highlights the importance of leadership development. The following are two examples of what businesses and educational institutions are doing to improve leadership skills in adults. Lastly, for those of you interested in hearing more about the change in leadership in business, take a look a a recent video from the Globe and Mail posted below.

Unilever Leadership Development Centre


Recently, leadership development can be found frequently in the news. Univlever just opened their second Four Acres leadership development centre located in Singapore. The first centre, Four Acres London, has been in operation for over 60 years. They believe in developing world talent and training future leaders for their company. Their focus is on the changing environment of business and developing leaders who are ready for the 21st century.

Read more: http://www.eco-business.com/news/unilever-launches-leadership-centre-Singapore/

New Degree: Bachelor of Business Leadership and Commerce

A university in Australia, Macquarie University, is launching a new degree in 2014: Bachelor of Business Leadership and Commerce. Student’s need to graduate with better leadership skills and abilities, and this undergraduate degree is what many businesses have been asking for. This program is also aware of the changing world of leadership: “The degree provides a holistic understanding of what it takes to be a capable, adaptable and inspiring leader in today’s fast changing business environment”.

Read more:  http://prwire.com.au/pr/37814/business-calls-for-graduates-to-develop-leadership-skills

From Heroic Leader to Shared Leadership

In this video, the Globe and Mail sits down with Ed Lawler from the Marshall School of Business at USC to discuss the change in leadership from the individual leader to what he likes to call “shared leadership”. Take a look at the link below!

View: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/video-forget-the-hero-leader-you-need-a-company-of-leaders/article12041041/


Non-Formal and Informal Education of Leadership in Business


As leadership evolves, there is a growing importance in non-formal leadership development. When it comes to developing leaders, real-life experience plays a large role. As Marshall Goldsmith has commented, “many of our leadership programs are based on the faulty assumption that if we show people what to do, they can automatically do it” (Petrie, 2011). Leadership should be taught within the workplace. One assumption that Knowles stated about adult education was that adults like to learn what they can immediately apply (Palacios, 2013). When teaching leadership within the workplace, leadership can not only be practiced immediately but is also expected to be applied immediately. A major component of leadership within the workplace involves a specific fit with the company’s organizational culture, and each company will require different competencies and skills in their leaders. Also, as we move into the future, competencies that make a strong leader will be constantly changing and adapting to the current environment (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). There are many elements of leadership that cannot be taught through the classroom, especially with the new trend of collaborative leadership, adults must gain experience and grow within the workplace. Formal education is no longer the most effective approach to leadership development, and in fact, the classroom is becoming the least critical element for leadership training (Petrie, 2011).

There are many forms of non-formal leadership include mentorships, coaching, development workshops and seminars, short courses, action learning, and 360-feedback (Petrie, 2011). Of course, some methods of leadership development are favoured over others, and it is believed that teaching and learning leadership should be an ongoing process, not just a course or seminar (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). The application of leadership competencies in one’s specific business organization is a key element to the success of developing leadership: “State of the art leadership development now occurs in the context of ongoing work initiatives that are tied to strategic business imperatives” (Petrie, 2011). Vertical learning is another important aspect, and involves CEO’s of businesses to get involved in coaching and mentoring their employees in all levels of the company. The CEO of P&G, the top ranked company of 2013 for leadership, says that he believes in teaching leadership from within and dedicates a large portion of his time to teaching and coaching employees (Donlon, 2013). In Asia, leading companies in building leadership found that real life experiences in practicing leadership are what lead to the fast development of leaders, and found classroom style learning to be less effective (Ramakrishnan, 2013).

The challenge of non-formal leadership education is deciding the right way to develop and teach leadership. The over reliance on formal education, such as MBA programs, is partly due to the fact that it is unknown what experiences best prepare individuals to be leaders (Ramakrishnan, 2013). Also, it may be easier and takes less internal resources for companies and to send their employees to a course versus teaching employees themselves. However, it is important that companies overcome these hurdles so that they can develop effective leaders. They must realize that the focus of leadership should be developing the competencies that will work within the organization. The aim of leadership should be to create authentic leaders that will accomplish the company’s goals. It is said that: “leaders should not be accountable for demonstrating a particular set of behaviours but rather should be held accountable for desired outcomes” (Petrie, 2011). In turn, companies need to foster organizational environments that nurture and reinforce the desired behaviors of leaders (Petrie, 2011).

The main form of informal education within the workplace is observation and working with another leader to follow his or her vision (Mathews, 2012). It is important for CEOs to set good examples for their organizations and to surround their employees with influences that will allow them to succeed and take on roles of leadership. CEOs are leaders, and they must believe that their employees can become leaders and provide them with opportunities to learn from other leaders within the company (Crisp, 2013).


Crisp, D. (2013, July 2). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.hrreporter.com/blog/strategic-hr/postprint/2013/07/02/3-keys-to-developing-effective-leaders

Donlon, J. P. (2013, January 12). 40 best companies for leaders 2013. Chief Executive. Retrieved from chiefexecutive.net/40-best-companies-for-leaders-list

Hernez-Broome, G., & Hughes, R. L. (2004). Leadership development: Past, present, and future. Human Resource Planning, 24-31. Retrieved from http://home.mycybernet.net/~taylors/Publish/leadership development.pdf

Matthews, P. (2012). Leadership and learning. Training Journal, , 60-63. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1027547960?accountid=1343

Palacios, C. (2013). Andragogy. Retrieved from http://blogs.ubc.ca/adhe412may2013/andragogy/

Petrie, N. (2011). Future trends in leadership development.Center for Creative Leadership, Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/futureTrends.pdf

Ramakrishnan, M. (2013, July 05). How top asian firms develop good leaders. The Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/workplace-success/how-top-asian-firms-develop-good-leaders/a/126822

What is Leadership?


What is leadership? While leadership may be recognizable, it is difficult to define. It is said that leadership lacks a universal definition: “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are leadership theories – and there are almost as many theories of leadership as there are psychologists working in the field” (Day & Antonakis, 2012). The definition of leadership is changing as the world of leadership development is evolving. Leadership is no longer believed to be born or innate, and there is a large focus on the development of leaders within organizations. We are slowly moving away from the time of the “heroic” or individual leader, and moving toward a new and more innovative approach in order to tackle the challenges of the future (Petrie, 2011).

Currently, the most common methods for leadership development include: training, job assignments, action learning, executive coaching, mentoring, and 360-degree feedback (Petrie, 2011). These methods focus on an individual leader and defining and developing the competencies of a leader in these individuals. However, as the environment is changing the skills that leaders must embody are also changing which creates a need to come up with stronger developmental methods. Some of the key traits that used to define leaders, for example being controlling, will actually begin to work against leaders of the future.

This change in environment is due to several future trends including increased information available, business systems become interconnected, organizational boundaries are diminishing and roles are changing, new technology is being introduced and relied on in the business world, new generations have different values and expectations in the workplace, and globalization will continue to increase into the future. While the focus of leadership development is shifting from solely possession of competencies, things such as adaptability, self-awareness, boundary spanning, collaboration, network thinking as well as creativity, the ability to think strategically, manage change effectively, and be comfortable with ambiguity are all skills that will be valuable and looked for in future leadership roles (Petrie, 2011).

The focus of future leadership development is collaboration. Development should focus on building networks of leaders. This leadership aims to connect diverse groups of leaders (Tener, Scearce, Kim, Rivera, Holley, Goldstein, Anklam & Chaux, 2012). With a more volatile and unpredictable environment in the future, one single leader cannot possibly have a solution to every problem that arises. The focus is on a power in numbers, and organizations need to invest in individual capacity, team capacity, organizational capacity, network capacity, and system capacity (Petrie, 2011). Leadership development must shift from a mindset of “what is a leader” to “how to be a leader” (Petrie, 2011). While currently development is focused on horizontal development, or competency development, leadership should now be developed through vertical development which focuses on the stages individuals progress through as they make sense of their world (cite future trends). Innovation will also be heavily relied on in order to enable leadership roles to take the form of networks and together solve more complex problems.

We are now in an era where leadership is being re-defined from a person’s role to a process. As Bill Gates once said: “ as we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” (Meier, 2011). Leadership of the future will center around the question: “What conditions do we need for leadership to flourish in the network”? (Petrie, 2011). One of the largest changes in leadership will be the development process. Current methods are going to shortly become outdated, and the challenge will be how to cultivate leaders in a complex society, and also, how to change society’s view of the individualized leader and embrace the ways of collective and collaborative leadership networks.


Day, D. V., & Antonakis, J. (2012). The nature of leadership. (pp. 3-28). California, United States of America : Sage Publications Inc. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/41401_Day_Antonakis_introduction_to_the_nature_of_leadership2.pdf

Meier, J. D. (2011, Jan 19). Lessons learned from bill gates. Retrieved from  http://sourcesofinsight.com/lessons-learned-from-bill-gates/

Petrie, N. (2011). Future trends in leadership development.Center for Creative Leadership, Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/futureTrends.pdf

Tener, B., Scearce, D., Kim, E. E., Rivera, G., Holley, J., Goldstein, N., Anklam, P., & Chaux, N. C. (2012). Leadership & networks: New ways of developing leadership in a highly connected world. Leadership For A New Era Series, Retrieved from http://www.leadershiplearning.org/system/files/LLCNetworkNLfinal4.pdf