Leadership Development Study: Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders

leadership development studyIn Brandon Hall Group’s 2014 State of Leadership Development Study, the majority of organizations (63%) indicated they had a leadership strategy in place, yet three-quarters of organizations said their leadership development was ineffective.

Each year organizations hold up leadership development as a critical business initiative. In support, organizations invest billions of dollars annually on leadership development. Yet, for most, its quantifiable impact on business results is marginal at best.

To shape more impressive business results for the majority and to avoid discussing the same leadership issues in 2050, it’s likely organizations will significantly shift their focus on leadership development — from a talent management process that builds leadership capability, to a strategic people strategy building on leadership capability to infuse an environment of high-performance culture and employee empowerment.

Participate in our Leadership Development Study

Our 2015 State of Leadership Development Study, now in the field, invites your opinion about how well leaders are cultivating productive relationships with their employees and what behaviors leaders are demonstrating that reinforce (or undermine) empowerment. Please share your thoughts!

In the meantime, here are some thoughts on improving culture and empowering employees.


Today’s organizations will be successful tomorrow only by carefully weaving a high-performance culture. Our knowledge economy has created flatter organizational structures. Technology has enabled our organizations to do business across continents real time in a 24×7 fashion. Social media has influenced organizational, leadership, and personal brands. The changed demographic profile of our workforces has given rise to individual needs, expectations, and aspirations while expecting all employees to work together effectively. Taken together, these dimensions have introduced complexity in our workplaces and even a level of chaos for our employees.

For long-term success, organizations will have to respond to these challenges by simplifying the employee experience at work, and much of that response comes down to leadership. High-performance leaders, regardless of their level, will be accountable for creating inclusive, collaborative and delightful cultures. Being an inclusive leader is understanding what inspires others, treating everyone with respect, valuing all employees’ contributions and inviting their opinions and diverse thinking, being authentically interested in their welfare, and nurturing productive relationships. These will be the leaders who have the know-how to create high-performance teams and create long-term, sustainable business results.


The theory of employee empowerment postulates that if employees are well informed, free to act in unencumbered manners and make decisions, then they are able to carry out their responsibilities more efficiently, more effectively, and with passion and inspiration. The empowerment concept has been proven to have significant predictive value on engagement. Yet, few organizations have adopted it in a manner that has an impact on business results. The time is now for high-performance organizations to understand how to effectively institutionalize empowerment. When done right, empowerment is framed by a 2-way responsibility structure:

  • the organization and its leaders
  • the employees.

Like culture, empowerment usually starts with the leaders. Leaders are accountable for informing their employees and teams about their purpose, their expected contributions, the operating rules and principles, and decision rights. These guidelines enable employees to take accountable action in the best interest of the customer and the organization. Nurturing employment via productive manager-employee relationships makes employees independent to make informed decisions, removes all or most of the need for people management skills in leadership roles, and limits knee-jerk decisions that create organizational turmoil and employee discontent.

Regardless of your most pressing business challenge, industry, location, or organizational size, if you are interested in shaping  your leaders to effectively lead your organizational in to the future, take a stand to develop a delightfully inclusive and collaborative culture and holding your leaders accountable for nurturing empowered employees.

If you are one of the few high-performance organizations (our leadership development study shows there are some of you out there), then developing a delightfully inclusive and collaborative culture and holding your leaders accountable for nurturing empowered employees is already on your “completed” list. In that case, I want to hear from you! And I bet others do too! Please share with us how you accomplished it? What’s working well? Not so well? How is it making a difference to your business results?

Until next time…

Laci Loew
Vice President and Principal Analyst, Talent Management
Brandon Hall Group



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