No Image Available

Barb Arth

Read more from Barb Arth

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Designing leadership development to drive 21st century business goals


Barb Arth looks at the latest Bersin & Associates study on high impact leadership development.

In today’s global economy, an organisation’s ability to survive and thrive hinges on effective leadership and the skill of its leaders to navigate through periods of economic uncertainty.

In the wake of the global recession and subsequent reductions and gaps of leadership ranks in many organisations worldwide, high-impact organisations are focused more than ever on keeping, growing, and engaging their top talent.

These organisations recognize that effective leadership and skilled leaders are critical to an organization’s success but particularly so during such times of change and uncertainty. Organisations that have been investing in leadership development find themselves in a better position today to compete and thrive.

Our latest research shows that high-performing organisations know that it is as essential to be strategic about addressing talent gaps in their leadership pipelines as this is about their business model, their customers, and their competitive position. To stay ahead of the curve, an organisation has no choice but to align the strategy for its leadership talent pipeline with its long-term business strategy, ensuring that it has the leadership skills to deliver on long-term business goals.   

"Organisations with strategic leadership development strategies are seven times more effective at delivering improved business and talent results than organisations with less sophisticated leadership functions."

 The business imperatives and rewards for such actions are clear: organisations with strategic leadership development strategies are seven times more effective at delivering improved business and talent results than organisations with less sophisticated leadership functions. Such organisations report that they have generated nearly 60 percent improved business growth and a 62 percent improvement in employee retention by continuously investing in leadership development.

These same organisations also are focused on developing a new breed of leader, shaped by critical trends high-impact organisations should be ready to address to remain competitive in the 21st century. These include a need for leaders to be:

  • Globally savvy: effective leaders must be fluent in doing business globally with multicultural societies. They must also look beyond their immediate geographies to address business problems.
  • Agile, open and innovative: While established leadership qualities (integrity, visioning, judgment, and people development) still count, new competencies are emerging such as agility, flexibility, the ability to innovate and to manage diverse workforces.
  • Technologically astute: Today’s fast-paced business environment and an expectation that leaders guide geographically and virtually dispersed units and teams demand today’s leaders possess the technological savvy to lead effectively.

The highest-performing and most admired organisations have built cultures of development that foster leaders at all levels, and particularly in emerging and mid-level leaders, by enabling them to engage, inspire, influence, motivate, reward and measure outstanding performance for purposes of driving business success. In fact, our research finds there is a direct relationship between leaders’ (and their direct reports’) capabilities and an organisation’s long-term success.

What really counts is the capacity of an organisation’s leaders’ to act with a focus on business results. The business needs and challenges of today’s high-impact organisations require an interactive and experiential approach to business leadership. And an organization’s most direct route to success relies on leadership development best practices that:

  • Encourage executive engagement: To ensure your leaders build a development brand and  embrace a culture of learning that empowers them to make decisions and take actions that drive business results, your senior executives must model that same behavior and regularly engage in their own development as well as participate in defining the organisation’s leadership strategy and development approach of all leaders in your organisation.
  • Align leadership strategy and development to organisational goals: With the engagement of your executives, define and document your strategic and organisational level business priorities. Next, link development opportunities of these leaders directly with business goals. Without that deliberate linkage, such development is merely good learning that could simply be transferred to another organisation.
  • Integrate leadership development with other talent processes: High-impact organisations identify and assess their critical positions (leader and non-leader) and align their leadership development with other talent management processes, such as workforce planning and succession management, to support enterprise-widetalent management initiatives.

Organisations that take the time to implement these targeted, business-driven leadership development ideas have the opportunity to build a culture of accountability. Such a leadership development culture creates a magnet for top talent and drives engagement, performance and overall business results. This is why organisations that are "built to last" have strong histories of leadership development.

Barb Arth is senior analyst at Bersin & Associates, whose new study, High-Impact Leadership Development for the 21st Century, is based on surveys and interviews with more than 300 leadership development and learning development managers around the world, and will be released in three parts. Find out more about the research here.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!