Design Approaches to Advance Leadership Development Program Interventions

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In my previous post I had talked about the use of the ‘Know, Do, Be’ model as an approach for Basic Leadership Development. The next iteration in the area of Leadership Development requires discussing, what could constitute an Advance Leadership Development Program,

In Basic Leadership Programs the objective is to tell the incumbent participant about the ‘pre-requisites’ that constitutes Leadership. Pre-requisites refer to preliminary necessary critical behaviors that could barely make a person begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of Leadership Behavior. These are essential components without which a leader can’t be termed as a Leader.

When moving towards Advanced Leadership Development, the focus is on the ‘Be’. In a way, in the Advanced Leadership Program, the incumbent is equipped with the awareness of the several broad long term strategic intents and roles that a leader may have and choices are laid out to pick one that he or she would like to take up in the long run.

Around these, the domain of Advanced Leadership runs on the axis having Situational at one end and Transactional on the other end.

Approaches to Situational Leadership Development

Situational Leadership proposes that effective leaders must have a rationally balanced understanding of the circumstance to respond appropriately. The essence of Situational Leadership is that of Task Orientation. When designing a Situational Leadership Program, enough emphasis must be laid upon the Leadership Style and to link the Style to create an appropriate Climate that facilitates Task Accomplishments.

Since effective Situational Leaders are those who are high on achieving task
accomplishments, any program or intervention to develop Situational Leaders must have modules that cover giving definite instructions, learning structured methods of communication, learning to understand and interpret operational climate dimensions to integrate Product-Services Goals and Processes of the organization.

Such an intervention is expected to have learning inputs around Communication Styles, understanding critical behaviors that characterize Task Oriented Competencies and components of Time Management besides offering other Models, Matrix and Methodology of task accomplishment like Project Management. The criteria to choose these modules are that all of them contribute towards developing the incumbent into a Production-Oriented leader with a Directive approach.

Approaches to Transformational Leadership Development

Transformational Leadership has been ‘the single most studied and debated idea within the field of Leadership’ (Diaez-Saenz, 2011). In the leadership body of knowledge, many instances of business leaders’ turnaround success, middle management effectiveness, charisma-based leadership is attributed to Transformational Leadership.

Transformational Leadership is all about becoming an influencer, having people to follow and in the process scaling up the consciousness level of the followers about the significance and value of desired outcomes and the methods of achieving such resultant.

In organizations, Transformational Leaders are those leaders who are able to influence the team members to rise above their self-level interests and goals in the interest of the organization while also, as a parallel, satisfying the needs of the team members progressively elevating on the Maslow’s Motivational Pyramid.

In this context, Diversity acceptance, Multi-cultural Adaptability and Acceptance, certain Personality Traits and being high on Emotional Intelligence are essential competency areas for Leadership Development.

Contrary to Production Orientation, the focus of the design of the Transformational Leadership Development Intervention must focus on developing the People Orientation of the incumbents. The interventions to develop Transformational Leadership must also focus on and be inclusive of such components that go to develop the individual’s ‘Consideration and Participative’ approach rather than ‘Production and Directive’ approach.

In a way, while Situational Leadership concerns more with the competence of effectively maintaining the day-to-day business operations and “keeping the ship up-float”, Transformational Leadership transcends beyond the daily operational activities and formulates strategies for the organization to move to the higher orders of performance and achievements.

Thus, when designing modules of Transformative Leadership Development – Modules on People Development and Team Building, understanding Motivational Aspects and Orientation of Human Behavior, Collaborative Influencing, System Thinking, Change Management and Constructive Conflict Management are key ingredients.

A psychometric at the beginning of the intervention or program, capturing raw data of original state and extent of “As Is” orientation of the incumbent, always helps the OD Professional to design the intervention in such a way, that best helps to achieve the desired state and extent of orientation in the “To Be” state.

How to conceptualise the designing of a basic leadership development program?

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For any OD Facilitator or even an academic Faculty Member, developing a Leadership Development Program or a teaching module on Leadership is a task of significance and high value. Whereas much is known and talked about leadership in general, when given the charge of developing a Leadership Development Program or a teaching module on Leadership, the person may struggle to find out an appropriate approach to start with.

A search of “Leadership” on Google throws up roughly 84 million hits. Indeed, as a glamorous topic popularly talked about, the interest has grown and hence the growth, availability and popularity of Leadership Courses. The first objectively printed text book on “How to Teach Leadership” was published 25 years ago in USA by Westpoint’s Department of Behavioural Sciences and Leadership, titled Leadership in Organizations (1985). However, the struggle of Faculties and OD Facilitators continue and the following questions are pertinent:

(a) As a faculty or facilitator, where should I go to learn and find out about the wide array of approaches to teach or develop Leadership?

(b) How do I search the sea of practical experiences to arrive at appropriate hypothesis and pedagogical techniques which I can use to design, develop and deliver a leadership course or a Leadership Training Module?

I recommend the following approach which is called the “KNOW, DO, BE MODEL”. The three key components of this Model are based on the three classical domains of psychology.

KNOW (cognitive), DO (behavioural) & BE (attitudinal). As a resource person this leads us to develop a leadership process approach which flows like:

KNOW > DO > BE

KNOW – The underlined concept behind this model is that knowing about leadership helps to prepare future leaders for the organization and allowing them to practice. ‘Knowing’ can happen by way of acquiring concepts and theories from relevant societal concepts and existing Leadership Theories and Models. These then requires to be connected to the situational and perspectives of the leadership development, as faced by the faculty. Faculty is thus recommended to relate its target group and the current situational perspective to existing body of Theories and Models, so as to arrive at a thematic approach to address the Leadership Development needs. Additionally, the OD Facilitators ensure that their learning interventions or inputs in the program are tailored in such a way that they integrate the action of putting the theories and models into exhibited behavioural conduct in their day to day operations.

DO – “Doing” refers to the characteristic behavioural aspects of Leading, often referred also as Competencies. Characteristic behavioural skills, exhibited leadership style and experiential feedback exchange are core to Doing. Knowing and Doing, both refers to acquiring of knowledge and skills by incumbents to become leaders.

BE – “Being” refers to the attitudinal construct of the leader comprising of the leader’s Conscious and Unconscious sense to Identity, Character and Values.

Thus, the fundamental approach that emerges is, to develop an incumbent into an effective leader, the incumbent needs to be ‘Made Known’ of the relevant domain related information, facts and data. The incumbent also needs to be taken through the ‘Do and Acts’ of learning and practicing the critical characteristic behavioural skills. Further, he/she should also be trained to ‘Be’ a Values Driven, Character oriented ‘Being.’

FOR AN ADVANCE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The faculty or OD Facilitator may consider to extend the basic tenets of Application Orientation to learning simulations that could help the incumbent to experiment, to be either more of TRANSFORMATIVE or SITUATIONAL leader, as is the demand from him or her in the work situation.

I shall be offering a separate and detailed coverage on Advance Leadership Development in this blog soon.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014