How to LEAD in the Leadership Game


How to LEAD in the Leadership Game

            When we look around, we can see that there is a leadership crisis almost everywhere in the world. Be it the Political World or the Business World, there are several challenges due to the lack of the right leadership at the right time. World Economic Forum says that 86% of the respondents to the Survey on Global Agenda think that there is a leadership crisis in the world today. Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor shows from their survey that by looking at leaders in business, government, community service, trade/labor unions and the not-for-profit sector, only 22 percent of those surveyed believe leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from 25 percent last year. The Leadership challenges are powerful enough to keep the CEOs & CHROs awake at night. Let’s look at some industry insight.

The Global Leadership Forecast Study by DDI & Conference Board lists four of the top 10 human capital strategies selected as crucial by CEOs:

  • Improve leadership & leadership development programs
  • Enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams
  • Improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers
  • Improve succession planning

The Fortune report lists developing the next generation of leaders who have the skills to remake the business and the ability to retain and attract premier talent as challenges.

A Survey by Waggl reported the following challenges for CHROs:

  • Developing Leaders at all Levels
  • Increasing Team Effectiveness and Collaboration
  • Finding the right, innovative Talent
  • Increasing the effectiveness of Performance Review

These insights clearly show that improving leadership & leadership development programs, enhancing the effectiveness of senior management teams, developing the next generation of leaders and developing leaders at all levels are emerging as key challenges for Leaders and organizations. So the question is, how can we overcome these challenges and LEAD in the Leadership Game?



            The critical step in winning the Leadership Game is to ensure that there are linkages with both the Business Strategy and Leadership Strategy of the organization. When Leaders understand the strategy and the key drivers of the business, they will be able to identify the Leadership Attributes, Leadership Style and Leadership Behaviors required to achieve the business strategy. This understanding will help to develop a leadership strategy unique to that organization. The Leadership Development strategy should be sponsored by the CEO of the organization to ensure that it gets the right support, focus and resources for success. Apart from the Business Strategy and Leadership Strategy, linkages should be developed with the various subsystems within the organization. Linkages should be developed with the external environment as well, in terms of what skills are available. This will help to understand what capability needs to be developed within the organization. Linkages with the workforce aspirations and demography are required to understand how to attract, develop and retain the leadership potential, adapt the career paths and experiences to suit the multiple generational workforces.



            Once the Linkages have been made and the Leadership Strategy has been developed, it’s all about identifying the framework to provide the right experiences for developing the required leadership capability. The Experiences can be a combination of Experiential Learning, Social Learning and Formal Learning. It’s about identifying which combination will suit your leadership strategy, to provide the required experiences, suit the demographical needs of the workforce and achieve the set objectives. While we have frameworks on the 70:20:10 approach, this combination could vary based on the readiness of your organization and could be a journey towards the appropriate combination for your organization.



            The experiences should be mapped to the respective audiences within the organization. When I say audiences, I am referring to how we can identify different groups or levels for developing Leadership capability. We can see many approaches – a generic leadership development program for all levels, level based leadership programs for all levels or selective levels. The audiences could vary based on the type of organization, need, etc., but an effective Leadership Development Strategy should configure the audiences and map their needs to that of the experiences required and the overall leadership strategy.



            The next step is to evolve the leadership development approach for your organization. We can break this into three Ds – Design, Develop, and Deliver. Whether it’s a customized program or a generic program, these three aspects are critical.  The three D’s help ensure that the curriculum, experiences and the delivery model build a Leadership engine that will develop the right leaders who can deliver the business strategy of the organization and to have enough leaders for meeting the Talent needs of the organization. It’s also about understanding the changing trends in how leadership can be developed and emerging leadership models influenced by the multi generational workforces.

The writing is clear on the wall – organizations which are focused on these key insights and follow the appropriate strategies succeed in the Leadership Game and emerge as winners. We can see significant positive impact on the total shareholder return, improved relationships, improved teamwork, improved job satisfaction, improved productivity, a better talent pool and an organization that succeeds.  So if you want your organization to LEAD in the Leadership game, it’s time you started working on the Linkages, Experiences, Audiences and Developments required for the Leadership development strategy of your organization. If you want to learn how, we are here to support you in the journey.

Author: Ragland Thomas G

Vice President – Global Organization Development & Strategy

Institute of Organization Development


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