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Three Critical Questions on Leadership Development: Part 2

March 27, 2012

This is the second post in a four-part series, in which I outline what I view to be three critical, foundational questions one ought to consider when developing or assessing a leadership development strategy.

In my last post, I considered the most foundational question of the three: why leadership development is important. Today, I consider,

“Why should organizations consider engaging experts in some or all of their leadership development?”

The answer to this question seemed equally as obvious as the first. You would only trust your health to a medically-trained professional, your car to a certified auto-mechanic, and your money to an experienced and reliable bank or investor. We live in a world of expertise – a world in which we consult with the best we can find on the critical elements which really matter. With so much at stake, so much resting on effective leadership, why should we treat leadership development any different?

That argument seems to stand well enough on its own, but, as you’ll remember from my first post, I’m the data-driven type. So, on to the data. The 2011 Global Leadership Forecast reveals that 1/3 of leaders and HR professionals rated the quality of their leadership development efforts as effective – not a particularly inspiring number.1

Alas, it gets worse. In a world in which

2/3 of leaders and HR professionals do not characterize their leadership development efforts as effective,

only 25% of HR professionals feel satisfied with their organizations’ quality of leadership – and only 18% believe their organizations have “the quantity and quality of leaders they will need to run their companies 3 to 5 years out,” according to the 2011 Global Leadership Forecast.

What’s particularly surprising (and cringe-inducing) is that the number of leaders and professionals who rated their leadership development efforts as effective remains virtually unchanged over the last five years in which DDI has performed the Global Leadership Forecast.

The truth in the aphorism, “business as usual guarantees failure,” resounds in this particular case. Fully 2/3 of leaders and HR professionals would not characterize their leadership development efforts as effective and yet some organizations hesitate before engaging an expert in at least some component of their leadership development strategy – a decision, frankly, any organization with an eye towards success can ill-afford.

What do you think? Do these statistics resonate with you? Does your perspective match the data presented here? Let us know by commenting below.

Join me on Thursday, March 29th,  when I consider the third critical question one should ask when considering a leadership development strategy.


1. Jazmine Boatman and Richard Wellins, “Global Leadership Forecast 2011.” Development Dimensions International, Inc. 2011.

About the Author:

Ashley Wollam is Program Manager at Linkage, responsible for its Global Institute for Leadership Development. A life-long, passionate student of leadership, Ashley received his early leadership training at the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business at Marietta College, one of the first undergraduate leadership programs in the country.


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