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Research: “Organizational context” drives development of strong leaders

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Research: “Organizational context” drives development of strong leaders

Traditional leadership development programs fail to deliver the business leaders who are collaborative and visionary.

Organizations that build a context for leader growth have better business and talent outcomes than those that rely more on traditional leadership development programs, according to new research from research consultancy Bersin by Deloitte.

“Context” refers to systems, processes, cultures, and practices that support leaders in their daily development.  

Based on a sample of 2,014 responses from global business and HR leaders from a wide variety of industries, the research indicates that traditional leadership development programs fail to deliver the types of business leaders needed today. The research instead presents a new "leadership maturity model" which shows that the most mature organizations — or 25% of the survey's global sample — generate better business and talent outcomes than those that rely on traditional leadership programs alone.

"Our research shows that organizations that adopt the new systemic leadership model have 37% more revenue by employee and were twice as profitable."

"Changing market dynamics, new technologies, shifting government regulations or new customer expectations all require leaders that can understand and respond effectively to seismic shifts that affect their businesses," said Andrea Derler, Ph.D., leadership and succession research leader, Bersin by Deloitte. "Our research shows that organizations that adopt the new systemic leadership model have 37% more revenue by employee and were twice as profitable as compared with organizations that focus only on formal leadership programs. They also are three times more likely to innovate, and six times more likely to produce leaders who are collaborative and provide vision and direction than peer organizations that rely solely on traditional leadership development programs."

To create the right context for leadership growth beyond formal programs, the new research-based leadership maturity model identified 17 important practices. In addition to communicating widely what it means to be a leader, some of the most critical practices for building a context for leadership growth call for organizations to:

  • Foster closer collaboration between business and HR leaders to define future needs of leaders;
  • Expose leaders to situations where they can learn from colleagues, clients, thought leaders and external sources;
  • Encourage knowledge sharing between leaders across the organization; and
  • Embolden leaders to take risks by supporting, sharing, and discussing new concepts and ideas.

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