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Three Critical Questions on Leadership Development: Part 4

April 4, 2012

In previous blog posts, I outlined and addressed three critical questions which one should consider before creating, or when assessing, a leadership development strategy. Being the data-driven sort, I grounded my answers in the latest Global Leadership Forecast produced by Development Dimensions International on a study involving over 2,600 organizations and more than 14,300 HR professionals and leaders across 74 countries. Being constrained to the limits of a blog post, I aim for cogency, not comprehensiveness. If you would like to hear more on this topic or these questions, let us know.

Today, I summarize these three critical questions and highlight some of my answers.

1. Why is leadership development so important?

Patently obvious to some, the answer to this question is nonetheless foundational. We can cite countless compelling, logical arguments to underscore the importance of leadership development–but who needs to bother with all of that when you have a really neat statistic? The one I prefer: organizations who boast the highest quality leaders are “13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics.” 1

2. Why should organizations consider engaging experts in some or all of their leadership development?

One can approach this question from two angles: looking outside and looking in. Looking outside your organization, you’ll find you live in a world of experts–and that you regularly engage experts in the things that matter (such as, cough cough, in matters concerning your health). Can you afford not to engage experts in your leadership development strategy? When organizations with the highest quality leaders are “13 times more likely to outperform their competition,” the answer, dear reader, is a resounding “no.”

Looking inside, data from the Global Leadership Forecast tells us that HR professionals, and the leaders whom they develop, have a rather dismal outlook on their existing leadership development efforts. 2/3 of leaders and HR professionals do not characterize their leadership developments efforts as effective–and only 18% of HR professionals believe their organizations have the required bench strength to see their organizations through the next 3-5 years.

3. What is the most effective form of leadership development?

Delivering a leadership development solution which appeals to all learning styles, works for all generations, and fits in all cultural contexts is a daunting challenge. In the end, more (methods) is better (more efficacious). The 2011 Global Leadership Forecast asserts that “a combination of the right [methods] lead to the highest payoff.” Thus, the most effective leadership development solutions are those which leverage a number of development methods, ranging from formal workshops to coaching to online collateral.

Now, the most important question of all:

What do you think? Would you modify any of these questions? Add to them? Did you find any of the data particularly compelling? Let us know by commenting below.



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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