Leadership Development

"Making a difference in leadership makes a difference in everything."

Among all the elements of an organization, leadership is perhaps the most important. Leadership sets direction, impacts culture, defines the norms, controls resources, delivers communication, and designs and distributes rewards.

Leadership strategies deserve as much attention as business strategies, but they do not often get it. In great companies, a significant amount (~20%) of top leaders' time may be devoted to leadership development activities.

We help organizations design and support strategies to develop leaders—from top teams to high potentials.

A Framework for Leadership Development

The template below was created by Harshman & Associates as a guide to the design and implementation of leadership programs. It contains all the elements of "best practices" and shows how they are related and connected. The guiding principle for creating a leadership development strategy is: the more elements you incorporate and the more each element represents best practices, the more successful your efforts will be.

Our Perspective on Leadership Development

Leadership Development is aimed at increasing Leadership Effectiveness. Leadership effectiveness is a product of both how one leads and the impacts or outcomes of the group or organization being led. Although the “born vs. developed” debate on how leaders are created continues, it is likely to end up in the same place as the “nature vs. nurture” debate. The fact is that individuals are born with certain abilities. These represent potential. If I lack a certain fundamental ability, there are certain things that I will not be able to do, no matter how much training and education I have or how hard I try.

Abilities are translated to competencies through experience, education, training, coaching and/or reflection. Abilities that are not translated into competencies result in behavior that is the same as not having ability. A match that’s never lit will not start a fire. It is merely potential in the unlit stage.

If I lack certain abilities, it does not mean that I cannot be an effective leader. It does mean, however, that if a certain leadership behavior depends on certain ability and that behavior is critical to effectiveness that I, as leader, have to find options. One is that I use certain other abilities to compensate. Another is that I build structure and people around me to fill the gap or void.

Our Approach to Leadership Development

Our approach to Leadership Development is based on research and the study a number of highly effective leadership development programs. The resulting model and template for Leadership Development is not the result of a scholarly exercise, it is a product of time spent in the library, reading journals, and attending conferences as well as time in the “streets” of real organizations. We have worked with the development of leaders in organizations for almost three decades. In that time, if you pay attention and learn, you get closer and closer to the strategy for effectiveness.

We call the graphic above a Leadership Development template. As such it is a pattern or “mold” for the design and conduct of leadership development efforts. Our fundamental premise with regard to the template is: The more of the elements of the template you include in your strategy for leadership development and the extent to which these elements represent (a) direct and important relevance to your business or organization, (b) best practices in the particular area, and (c) connection to each other, the more likely you are to have a significant and positive impact on leadership development and on effectiveness of the organization.

Principles of Leadership Development

First and foremost, we do not develop leaders, organizations do.

We are not the strategy for or solution to leadership development challenges, we are a partner in helping the organization create the right strategy or solution.

Our role is to help the leadership of an organization create a Leadership Development strategy that fits the mission-vision-values, strategy, and culture of the organization.

We are a partner, resource, and advisor to the organization in the creation, implementation, and evaluation of the Leadership Development strategy and program.

To be effective, Leadership Development is a way of life in the organization not just a one-shot program or something to do when financial times are good.

To have a significant, long-term impact on the organization, Leadership Development must be integrated with and connected to other major organizational activities and functions including business strategy and execution, performance evaluation, coaching and mentoring, and succession planning.

For more information on leadership development, contact Harshman & Associates.