Are Good Leaders Born or Developed?

If the former, then we shouldn’t even bother with leadership development. We usually think of leaders as those who can inspire and motivate others to put out discretionary effort and effective managers as those who ensure that things get done consistently well. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive and when we talk about leadership development we are usually talking about both concepts.

There is plenty of research on what techniques work in this arena. But, because there are so many over-hyped programs out there, let’s start with what doesn’t work:

1. Job shadowing for senior managers
2. Outdoor activity-based programs (rope climbing, white-water rafting, etc.)
3. Paper-based self-study leadership modules
4. Executive MBA”s and web-based self-study modules when implemented late in the persons career

The second one is most interesting as those team-building weekends sound so attractive. But, they are a waste of time and money. Note that the companies that put these on don’t back up their claims with data.

So, what does work?
1. Mentoring
2. In-house universities
3. Job rotations, executive MBA and web-based programs when started early
Note that these listed above don’t rely on quick fixes. Leadership and good management skills are difficult and complex, so you should expect that they take some time to develop. The successful techniques are interactive. Leadership is a skill practiced in the presence of others. It should be learned that way.

As with other employees, it’s less expensive to make a good hire than to train. In the meantime, be a careful consumer of leadership development products and services.

For more information on leadership, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or [email protected]

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