RESEARCH
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Leadership Development with Impact

How organizations are shaping the future of leadership development



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Earlier this year Mannaz conducted interviews with senior development professionals, from a cross section of 20 client organizations from a variety of industry sectors, in order to discover how they are designing for impact, how they’re delivering impact and how they’re shaping the future of leadership development in their organizations.

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As far as designing for impact, since Mannaz first asked clients about their leadership development methods in 2011, there has been a significant shift towards blended solutions with a greater emphasis on ‘in-role’ development, and a diminishing emphasis on classroom learning; albeit that a wide range of traditional learning methods are still in common use. Development programmes that align directly with the business agenda and help leaders learn to draw their learning from the ‘day job’, are increasingly regarded as the way forward.

When asked about their success in delivering impact clients give clear signals about the value organizations believe they are realising through leadership development. There is a good amount of informal impact assessment going on. Most clients emphasising the perceived value of their work over proven impact and offering anecdotal evidence of better leader performance, improved employee engagement, talent retention and improved business results. However, there is increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI and so to invest in more formal impact assessment.

With regard to shaping the future, which clients perceive to be uncertain, three clear themes emerge, ‘developing internal capability’, ‘becoming agile’ and ‘going digital’. The first two speak to a trend of creating stronger in-house teams ready to engage the business and create effective solutions for specific organization needs. There is pressure to deliver learning and development that supports the individual leader and his or her competence, but also at the same time a need for programmes that focus on developing the organization and its culture.

Mannaz was particularly struck by finding the sheer amount of informal qualitative evaluation work that goes on. Clients are investing heavily in managing the reputation of the L&D function, however there is insufficient perceived value in formal measurement.

Mannaz themselves are accelerating their investment in digital learning, and see the opportunity to integrate formal impact assessment naturally into the system platform with minimal additional cost.

In conclusion, Nathan Hobbs, the author of the Mannaz report, quotes William Gibson, “The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

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