Seven Models of Leadership Development


Robert M. Tomasko



1. Intellectual construct-based


Curriculum is based on a set of concepts:

What leaders need to know (knowledge and ideas)

Strategic thinking and planning
Target setting
Performance measurement and control
Organizing the work of others
Systems thinking
Change management
Emotional intelligence (self mastery and relationship skills)

What skills leaders need to practice (behaviors)

Decision making and problem solving
Motivating others
Presentation techniques
Time management
Cross-cultural sensitivity and communication
Effective meeting leadership

Influenced by a theory of leadership

Managers vs. leaders
Transactional vs. transformational leaders
Personality psychology topologies
Company-specific norms

2 types of programs:

1. Master a body of knowledge/acquire common skills

2. Assess future leaders against a standard

Develop a curriculum/development plan to close gaps


These are ideal for intellectually curious employees with available time


2. Learning-lab-based


Simulations of business leadership situations in a controlled setting

Allow for experimentation with new behaviors

Put participants in touch with personal passions and power

Feedback-rich opportunities for awareness and reflection




"Outward Bound type" wilderness adventures
Emphasis on stressful physical exercises

"Personal growth labs"
Emphasis on emotional intensity

"Management game simulations"

"Perspective-broadening" seminars (classic literature, poetry, arts)



3. Business issue-based


Identify broad issues of general concern to leaders

Construct programs to deliver a specific benefit



Leading corporate renewal
Orchestrating winning performance
Mobilizing people
Managing the innovation process: from idea and technology to market
Accelerating international growth

Provide updates on latest-thinking

Often from top thought leaders



4. Strategy-based


Curriculum content is mirror image of strategic plan

Very company-specific


Grow in consulting - study consulting skills

Broaden employee gene pool - study how to create a multicultural work force

Grow in Europe - study European cultures and business practices

Grow through acquisition and partnership - study successes and failures in alliance-creation and acquisition-assimilation

Grow by doing more of the same - study best-of-the-best practices now in place/spread them

Curriculum changes as strategy evolves

Curriculum development is integrated into strategic planning

Scenario-planning is sometimes taught as a way to "condition" the thinking of those involved in preparing the strategic plan

Challenge complacency, extend thinking horizons



5. Career stage-based

Some leadership skills are stage-specific

Movement from stage-to-stage requires acquisition of some new skills and unlearning of some old ones

Two models of career stages:

A. Individual roles

Stage 1: Apprentice
dependent learner

Stage 2: Individual contributor
independent specialist

Stage 3: Manager (or Senior Professional)
assumes responsibility for others
expands breadth of skills

Stage 4: Director (or Guru/Recognized Thought Leader)
exercises power to shape the direction of the organization
sponsors future leaders

B. Organizational transitions

Manage self to manage others

Manage others to managing managers

Managing managers to managing a function

Managing a function to managing a business

Managing a business to managing a group of businesses

Managing a group to managing an enterprise



6. "Leaders-developing-leaders" (University of Michigan model)

Assumptions about leadership

Must be learned holistically, not by analysis of components

Must not confuse concepts about leadership with leadership

Don't struggle to define and analyze leadership

Instead, consider it something that is present and must be encouraged in the future


Two premises:

1. Leadership is best learned through coaching, mentorship and modeling
from recognized leaders

This learning happens through the process of "identification" with a role model

2. Leadership is best expressed in the act of transmitting its essence to
future leaders - sign that you know it is that you can teach it

The mark of a leader able to sustain success is teaching ability


Three components of what is to be transmitted:

1. Beliefs, values, philosophy, tactics, mindset, techniques (explicit)

2. Tacit know-how and behaviors (implicit)

3. Theory and concepts have more credibility when taught by practitioners


Five-step cascade model of transmission:

1. Current leaders develop their personal point of view on the business

Often done through systematic reflection on their experiences using an advisor to serve as a sounding board

Avoid: mission statements, lists of values, intellectual generalizations, bullet points. Instead focus on: "here's what I believe based on these experiences"

Content includes:

Idea generation
Promoting values
Choosing a direction
Mobilizing support (inside and outside the company)
Generating energy throughout the organization
Making tough decisions

2. Bring this point-of-view alive so it can be transmitted and acted upon
allow it to be understood rationally and emotionally

Use stories to make it teachable

Stories are:

Illustrative of underlying hidden dynamics
Reflective of the ambiguity in the real world

Stories answer the most important questions:

Who I am
What we are
Where we have come from
What we are facing
Where we are going
What we need to do
How we will get there

The best stories leave things out

Provide opportunities for listeners to flesh out or even change the ending

3. Provide a structure to allow future leaders to put in practice the lessons they derive from the stories and interaction with the current leaders...

... by solving real-time/real-world business issues
in an atmosphere of coaching and reflection

4. Make heroes out of the future leaders by recognizing and spreading word of their successes

5. Teach the future leaders how to teach others... helping them find their own personal point of view on the business

6. Have the future leaders repeat this process with the potential leaders of their own organizations


Leadership does not stop at the office building door - these programs frequently include:

Community service and social development components

Consideration of how business leaders can also have a strong family life

Discussions of the ethical dilemmas involved in making tough business decisions

7. Pantheon of leaders

Assumptions about leadership

The nature of effective leadership will vary with the situation

Learning only by role modeling current leaders produces clones

Leader's mistakes can teach as much as their successes

Content of these programs goes beyond reflection by current leaders

Designate a pantheon of leaders whose actions will be studied, individuals within the company and in other industries, as well as a range of political, social and historical personalities.

Adjust the characters in the pantheon regularly, as the business' challenges change.



© Robert M. Tomasko 2002



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