Having just returned from the premier academic conference on management, the Academy of Management in the USA – around 7,000 people attend, here are some thoughts about leadership development coming from the conference.
And while those of us who work in leadership development practice will recognize all of these elements of impactful leadership development programs, it’s always useful to test against the research.
Missing focus on leadership development
There were a lot of sessions (around 350) on leadership covering topics like:
- Ethical Leadership
- Responsible Leadership
- Transformational Leadership
- Authentic Leadership
- Positive Organisational Leadership
- Relational Leadership
- Meaningful Leadership
- Complexity Leadership
- The Dark Side of Leadership
There was a missing focus on leadership development – only a few sessions focused on this billion dollar topic.
So what were the “hot topics” for leadership development?
A number of sessions presented the results of impact analyses across leadership development programs reported in academic journals. The results from a number of these presentations can be encapsulated as:
- A needs analysis is critical if you want to ensure that learning is transferred
- Specifying the type of theory that underpins the program design has an impact on results, so this should be identified as part of the program design
- Leadership development does make a difference to performance on the job and to organisational results both in the short-term and long-term
- Where mixed methods of development (instruction, practice, group work) are used, there is increased learning transfer back to work
- Where experiential learning methods are used, there are increased organisational results
- Sessions that are spaced out over time deliver better organisational results
- Sessions that are longer than 24 hours have a significantly larger impact on behaviour, social and emotional results
- Face to face and multiple development sessions support increased transfer back to work and long-term organisational results
- The type of theory used as the basis of development affected results – transactional/contingency theory provided an immediate effect after the program ended but transformational type leadership theory had better long-term effect on organisational results
- The practical application to work of the program elements delivers both on the job and organisational results
- Even some time after completion, leadership development programs still continue to deliver leadership behavioural change and organisational results
- Who you choose to deliver the program is critical – they need to meet the objectives of the program
- High Potential and Senior Leader programs are different and need both different approaches to development as well as different practitioner to deliver.
These items reflect notes taken at a number of sessions and have been collated across these sessions