Leadership development is an assessment of leaders to help identify and align strengths and weaknesses in an organization with what is considered important. The importance of leadership development in an organization is to develop effective leadership, build relationships with employees, increase motivation, and enhance communication. In addition, leaders must understand what it means to be a leader. A leader leads by example, strives to make positive differences, encourages and respects others, provides support and recognizes the contributions of others. Additionally, leaders must understand the meaning of leadership.

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Leadership can mean different things to different people. However, leadership creates an inspiring vision of the future, motivates and inspires people to engage with an established vision, manages delivery of the vision, and coaches and builds a team so that it is more effective at achieving the vision. Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things. So, in order to accomplish this, an organization needs to implement a leadership development plan to help leaders understand their style of leadership and how their behavior impacts employees through communication, motivation, performance and productivity.

Why An Organization Should Invest in Leaders
Organizations should invest in leaders to build a healthy, learning and growing organization; to help leaders empower and engage their workforce and drive performance and productivity; and to develop innovative approaches to accelerate leadership qualities by assessing those qualities, understanding career patterns and learning what development strategy works Investing in leaders may also enhance relationships between leaders and their employees. Also, investing brings social awareness, enhances social skills, enhances mutual respect, increases commitment and builds trust.

How Leaders Are Developed from Where They Are to Where They Need to Be
Based on a 2013 research study, Chuang has written that leaders must be developed to meet the needs of a multicultural workforce if organizations are to keep pace in the global economy of the twenty-first century. He noted particularly that more females, diverse cultural groups, lifestyles, ages and differing abilities exist now in the global workforce than ever before, and it is crucial for managers to be able to successfully lead and communicate with all these types. It is especially crucial for human resource development professionals to assist leaders in strategizing ways to deal with racially divergent issues on the job.

One particular method of leadership development is mentoring. This has been employed successfully in the academic field to equip novice principals to take leadership of academic institutions. Bartee (2014) has commented that the use of a role-model who can guide a novice leader through the first year of situations of crisis and everyday regimen is invaluable in bringing that novice from where he is pre-employment to where he needs to be at employment and beyond. For the mentoring technique to work effectively, the mentor (role model) must be able to lead the novice in as many of the needful qualities of school leadership as possible. It is highly likely that mentorship can be used as tool for developing leaders in all fields, not just in academia.

Crossan, Gandz and Seijts (2012) have suggested the importance of building character into leaders, as virtues and values are important aspects of making a leader effective. Character equates respect in most situations and employees tend to follow leaders whom they respect. Leadership development technique should begin with an assessment of who qualifies as the best candidate for leadership development. This assessment involves asking three questions: (1) Does the leader-candidate have the necessary degree of competency to continue on and be further developed? (2) Does the leader-candidate have the commitment to be a better leader? and (3) Does the leader-candidate display a esteem for good character, both personally and professionally? Crossan, Gandz and Seits have further suggested that if the answer to all three questions is “yes” then the first step of leadership development, identifying appropriate candidates for that development, has been achieved. The next step in bringing such a candidate from where he is to where he needs to be is teaching him a better understanding of the key concepts of his job, teaching him to engage with others to fulfill the vision of the organization he serves, how to better achieve project goals, and how to display character which will be well received by all the stakeholders in the organization.

Communication is a key factor for leadership success, and developing a leader to where he needs to be should definitely involve helping him identify, understand and effectively use his own personal communication style. Leaders who demonstrate excellent communication skills tend to advance at a faster pace in their own careers, and they positively affect their peers and subordinates as well. Therefore, it is important for leadership training to include the component of exploring the communication style which best serves a particular leader. Additionally, it is also an important detail in leadership training to help leaders differentiate between what it means to lead, as opposed to what it means to manage, as the two roles require a variance in communication style. In general, managers tend towards the oversight of short-term goals which have a language all their own, employing such terms as planning, budgeting, organizing, solving and ordering. Leaders, however, must be trained to more often employ other communication terms such as innovate, develop, inspire, challenge and focus, since their place in an organization usually requires a more long-term focus (Rogers, 2012).

Stehlik (2014) has studied and written about the importance of leaders to become innovative as they guide the vision, goals and impact of modern-day organizations. If innovation is understood to be the ability to bring appropriate change which moves an organization forward, then a module for training emerging leaders in how to be innovative is commensurate with the needful communication terminology predicated previously. Stehlik has determined that the way to teach leaders to be innovative is to help them understand how the organizations they guide are impacted by their unique place in whichever industry they are involved, and also how the organizations are affected by the business, academic, healthcare, etc. environment which surrounds them. He regards innovation as one of the most highly prized abilities which should be developed in an emerging leader. Further, he has suggested that innovation be taught based on a scenario in which the leader understands his place in the design of his organization, the organization’s place in the surrounding societal culture, and the innovative techniques which would most successfully impact the culture. Then he must be led to understand how each factor would impact the organization, which would then impact his leadership style and designs – all of this demonstrated in a circular, evolving pattern.

Why Leadership Development Fails in Organizations
The training design and style of training delivery have been determined to play a large and important part in the success or failure of any leadership development program. It is not just a matter of increasing training and development; there are ways of incepting and enacting that training and development that are more advantageous than other ways, which might be employed. Failure of an organization to determine the best development design and delivery can derail a leadership training program (Khan, Khan Khan, 2011).

One of the key failures of a development design system is failure to adequately fund it. Concern for efficiency and cost control can lead to an underfunded, weak program that does not ultimately result in more proficient leaders. A secondary failure of leadership development design can be too much time spent discussing and theorizing the need for leadership development and too little time spent actually implementing it. Many leadership development programs have died a slow death at the conference table before they were ever even launched. Time spent talking about performance, results and consequences is important but not as important as actually doing something about it. Also, a leadership development program will fail if the training plan does not target the needs of the leader-candidates. For instance, a leadership development design may fail if it consists of all workshop-style learning, without practical application to the actual day-to-day realities of that leader’s particular job duties (Khan, Khan & Khan, 2011).

It has further been suggested that those invested with conducting leadership development be talented and interesting trainers. Leaders in organizations are typically intelligent and, often, well educated persons. They will not respond well to a training style that is unimpressive and seems a waste of their valuable time (Khan, Khan & Khan, 2011).

Leadership development has also been shown to fail in organizations who do not organize the program design in such a way that it is relevant to the environment in which the leader exists. A one-size-fits-all development program may create a generic tool that does not address the realities of a leader’s vision, focus or inspiration. The opinion has been proffered that there is not one set model of leadership development that will work successfully in any scenario. This opinion is reinforced by the fact that while many models for leadership development programs have been proposed, even these are not centered around one unifying theory about leadership development design (Kaufman, Rateau, Carter & Strickland, 2012).

Leadership development will promote awareness and identify potential challenges of the development needs that leaders should have to better understand when leading others in an organization. Leadership development will enable leaders to recognize how behavior affects productivity, group performance and morale. Strengthening leaders’ competencies will create effective leadership, a productive work environment, build relationships, improve performance and enhance communication.

  • Bartee, R. (2014). Recontextualizing the knowledge and skill involved with redesigned principal preparation: Implications of cultural and social capital in teaching, learning and leading for administrators. Planning and Changing Journal, 43(4).
  • This article examined the important of the role of the mentor in developing the leadership skills necessary in a novice principal to lead in the academic institution setting. The goal of the article was to acknowledge the importance of equipping the leader to succeed in the real, everyday setting.
  • Chuang, S. (2013). Essential skills for leadership effectiveness in diverse workplace environment. Journal for Workforce Education and Development, 6(1). Retrieved March 31, 2016 from http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi?article=1133&context=ojwed
  • Crossan, M., Gandz, J., & Seijts, G. (2012). Developing leadership character. Ivey Business Journal. Retrieved March 30, 2016 from http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/developing-leadership-character//
  • Kaufman, E., Rateau, R., Carter, H., & Strickland, L. (2012). What’s context got to do with it? An exploration of leadership development programs for the agricultural community. Journal of Leadership Education, 11(1). Retrieved March 31, 2016 from http://www.leadershipeducators.org/Resources/Documents/jole/2012_Winter/Kaufman
  • Khan, R., Khan, A. & Khan, M. (2011). Impact of training and development on organizational performance. Global Journal of Management and Business Research,11(7). Retrieved March 31, 2016 from www.journalofbusiness.org/index.php/GJMBR/article/download/546/487
  • Rogers, R. (2012). Leadership communication styles: A descriptive analysis of health care professionals. Journal of Healthcare Leadership. 2012(4). Retrieved March 30, 2016 from https://www.dovepress.com/leadership-communication-st
  • Stehlik, D. (2014). Ultimately contingent: Leveraging the power-web of culture, leadership, & organization design for effective innovation. Journal of Strategic Leadership, 5(1). Retrieved March 2016 from http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jsl/val5iss1/stehlik.pdf