Observations of Leadership Development Since 1999


Our experiences over the last 18 years have allowed us to redefine for ourselves the nature of leadership development and how individuals should be developed. We have reached the following conclusions but keep in mind, they are only our experiences and observations. They are not in any order of importance.

1. Leaders are over-assessed and under-developed.

2. Many leadership training programs focus on an exchange of information (training) versus the teaching of wisdom (development). Information focuses on effect. Knowledge focuses on cause.

3. The lack of an effective leadership curriculum forces organizations to focus on what has been done before, even if it did not create the desired outcomes. (i.e. MBTI).

4. One size fits all is the most common approach to leadership development.

5. Traditional (military-like) leadership produces short-term outcomes, quick decision-making and problem-solving because the decision-making processes are controlled by a small number of individuals. This “concrete-sequential” approach emphasizes policy over people, rules and regulations and loyalty. It sees productivity in terms of profit versus people. It undervalues imagination and creativity. These leaders keep not only others, but the public in the dark. Money, power, status and control are dominant issues for these leaders.

6. Progressive (team-oriented) leadership is more open-minded and tries to bring issues to the table. These leaders focus on getting the most out of the workforce through empowerment processes. They are more open and direct in sharing their ideas, concerns and decisions in feedback processes. The progressive leader emphasizes people over policy, morale, and consideration. The motto of the progressive leader is “let’s all win.”

7. There is one general barrier in becoming an effective and respected leader: self-deception.

8. From this perspective, successful leadership is a function of two factors:

  • The willingness to evolve.
  • The ability to produce leadership in others.

9. The most visible sign of a leader’s level of mastery is how well the leader deals with conflict, disagreement and difficult people. Essentially, you don’t get to find out how good you are at leadership until the stuff hits the fan.

10. Effective leaders solicit the very thing that scares them to death: feedback. When this is avoided, mediocrity will and does become the benchmark of daily operations.

11. If #1 is doing it, #21 is doing it.

12. Good or bad, the structure of the organization or team will fit the structure of the leader’s personality.

12. Effective leaders have the ability to direct the intention and the energy of their intellectual and emotional machinery, at will, regardless of the circumstances…even while being attacked.

13. Most learning processes in training and development are very basic, if not well below the skill level of the audience. The use of engaged and dynamic thinking skills are uncommon.

14. Hardiness and resilience are essential in leadership.

15. Effective leaders have and execute a well-articulated platform of stress management.

16. Integrity is always an issue.

17. True diversity has nothing to do with race, gender, etc. True diversity hinges on diversity of mind.

18. Communication is the key to excellence. Effective leaders communicate in such a way that the group / team fulfills the goals and objectives of the leader’s intent.

19. Effective leaders turn negatives into opportunities.

20. The true leader operates out of mission and purpose.

21. The true leader does not come out of their own inner needs but focuses on meeting the needs of the workforce, thus increasing trust, loyalty, dependability and excellence.

22. The worth of a true leader is not based upon how many people s/he oversees or how much work s/he produces, but how many leaders s/he is capable of producing.

23. The true leader is a teacher.

24. Generally speaking, leadership development and outcomes of development over the last 18 years have not produced the kinds of leaders that organizations need.