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Getting the most from Leadership Development – The Leader’s Role

January 08 2018 - by Dr. Lois Parkes, CLP's Regional Project Manager

The role of the quality of leadership in adding value to organisations in every sector is widely accepted. One only needs to look at the plethora of complaints from employees, clients, customers and citizens, when there is a failure of leadership. The recognition of the role of leadership in organisational success has led to increasing investments in leadership development interventions. These investments are by no means cheap, costing in the range of USD$7000 to $18,000, depending on the length and design of the programme. However, evidence suggests that the value derived for investments in leadership development is sometimes uneven. There are many factors which contribute to these uneven results. One of the key factors is the role of leaders in leadership development. Leaders, who lead other leaders, play a very vital but often overlooked role in ensuring that those under their leadership, and their wider teams and work units, get the most from leadership development.

Here are some key interventions that leaders need to undertake in order to derive greater value from leadership development:

  • Assess readiness of their supervisees to undertake leadership development: This requires having an understanding of the current and future leadership challenges, and the competencies required to fill the gap. This also requires an understanding of the employees’ current competencies, performance and future aspirations. Merely sending employees for leadership development because a programme is advertised could possibly lead to a waste of expensive resources. Leaders have to be strategic in how they assess employee readiness and select employees for leadership development.
  • Set prior expectations. Leaders should have discussions with their employees about the potential benefits of leadership development, and develop specific targets for how learning can be applied to create positive organisational results that are context-specific.
  • Follow-Up. Once the participant has completed the programme or during the programme (if this is being done on a modular basis), leaders should have follow-up discussions on employee learning, what if any gaps remain, and how learning will be transferred. Specificity is critical in determining the outputs of such discussions. Holding employees accountable to implement learning with specific deadlines and performance improvement targets provides a better guarantee of the organisation getting a return on its investment, as well as, the inculcation of learning through improved leadership behaviours. Note that follow-up should also include the provision of required support to the employee to transfer learning, such as time, specific projects, financial resources, among others.

As you consider your own leadership development interventions, and how to get the most from them, you are invited to respond to the following questions:

  1. How can leaders be equipped to have the necessary competence to assess the readiness of other leaders on their team for leadership development?
  2. In what ways can leaders be held accountable for supporting leadership development?

 Should you wish to learn more, please click here to listen to the recording of our webinar on this topic.

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Keisha Wright - Reply


Leadership cadre in any organization should be made responsible for ongoing coaching and mentoring, to ensure that at all times there is an upcoming tier of leaders being developed.  By making this a priority or mandatory, leaders will naturally seek to monitor and assess readiness of supervisees for leadership development.  Ongoing dialogue and training could assist leaders to be equipped in this regard.

By providing a fora for reporting and sharing on their leadership development activities, leaders could be held more accountable.


Lois Parkes

Excellent suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

Andre Barry Innocent - Reply

Assessing readiness, setting prior expectations and follow up are very good aprroaches to getting value from leaders and a good means for the main leader to play a role in leadership development. Additionally, a leadership mentor programme can also help - where more senior leaders serve as mentors to leaders of lower positional rank. Further, Peer Mentoring Programmes among less senior leaders and even among senior leaders can also help - where the leaders identify issues and topics that are felt needs and then they take turns to do presentations on these issues or topics to other Peer Mentoring Leaders in their Peer Mentoring Group plenary sessions on a regular basis (maybe one per month or once per quarter or a time frame that is more convient). The Ministry of the Public Service in St Lucia had a very good Talent Management - Peer Mentoring Programme, that I found was very effective for leadership development.

But how can leaders assess the readiness of other leaders on their team? That is a good question. I recommend the following methods;

1.Through a Test: Design a test of some kind that will give give an idea of the competence and leval of leadership quality. The test can also help identify the weaknesses or areas of less competence or knowledge on leadership. The test should not be just an exam but a means to see the level of leadership and identify gaps.

2. Personal Obervations: It is always good to visit other leaders whilst they are on the job sometimes and make observations. Also, to have personal discussions (one to one) and ask them about their job/work duties - in the process you can ask them about their challenges without being derrogative or judgemental.

3. Needs Assesment Survey: where you literally conduct a survey that ask the other leaders about what they think are their needs for Leadership Training and what are the areas of weaknesses that they would like to be developed.

4. Performance Appraisals: Performance Appraisals can be sourced or carried out. If it is well done, as a source of literature they can help provide information to guide the leader in identifying weaknesses and areas of competence that can be more developed.

As to how leaders can be held accountable for supporting leadership development? The number of leadership training initiatives (workshops/lectures/presentations/etc.) that the leader instituted or implemented per year can be used as an accountable tool. Also, the number of leadeship meetings and leadership training literature that was provided to other leaders can be utilized as an accountability measure. Where the leader has mutually agreed on these terms or other terms to be used as a means of their leadership development accountability measure.

Leadership development is very important because leaders essentially have very good influence on other people and teams. Therefore, it would be prudent to provide leadership development that can influence achievement of organisation's goals and objectives.


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