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How do we develop new leaders in organizations?

by Dustin Lyons December 1, 2010

There is no clear answer to what makes a good leader—only a multitude of opinions on what attributes are most important. When organizations set out to develop new leadership, what then should they focus on training? What characteristics and skills should they look to strengthen in new, developing leaders? Just as the definition of leadership has no clear answer, I will argue that leadership development programs can focus on very different things. I will examine what makes them vary and draw conclusions on what similarities exist across organizations developing new leaders. I’m also asking for your opinions on what values are most important in developing new leaders.

So, how does leadership development differ between organizations? Why is it that we haven’t decided on core values that should be taught? Organizations have different missions, objectives, and take on very different projects. It seems logical then that their definitions of leadership would vary, as different qualities of people are desired for different situations. For example, non-profit organizations may have leaders quite different than public corporations. The purpose and goals of leadership in education differ from that in religion and churches. The same applies to the military and other organizations. It is very clear then that based on the organization, leadership development will be different. However, I believe there to be a few core values that exist across all areas.

For one, leadership development in all organizations should teach integrity and good ethical practices. Leaders need to lead with good intentions and morals, and when faced with wrongdoings not turn away but confront the issues.

Secondly, all leaders should be very adept at communication. In any organization, the managing and effective use of information is crucial to success. If leaders do not teach their subordinates how to properly communicate, the objective of the organization may not be met. As well, if the leader does not communicate the overall mission effectively to the organization, the team may not be working to support the overall goals.

Lastly, in my opinion, all leaders should accept and embrace responsibility. It is in accepting responsibility, performing actions, and seeing results that work gets accomplished in organizations. Leaders need to accept the responsibilities they take on; not detract from them. This is true for everyone, and those leaders who shy away from their responsibilities find that their performance may not considered on par with the standards of their organization.

Through this analysis, I analyzed a few qualities I felt were common across leadership in organizations. When developing new leaders, these characteristics should not be ignored as they are crucial to success. I’m interested to hear your opinions on what other values are common in leadership development. Also, what are some characteristics of leadership development in the corporate world?