A New Leadership Development Model for a New World

Change is part and parcel of life in global markets — no business is immune. To thrive within a disruptive and turbulent environment, companies need leaders who put people over profits; focus on purpose over process; and build trust, care, and empathy. Effective, dynamic leadership is needed at all levels within an organization, but relying on traditional leadership development models simply won’t work. A new model is needed — one that takes a holistic approach to leadership development by combining multiple learning strategies.

A holistic approach to leadership development

As with nearly everything, even the definition of a leader has changed. As organizations become flatter and more dynamic, employees at every level and function may find themselves in a leadership role. Therefore, leadership today is a capability that almost everyone in the organization needs. 

Traditional leadership development models that assume leadership is static and practiced only from the top down no longer apply. Companies must shift from step-by-step leadership development models to a continual and on-going process that empowers and supports leaders within the context of their organization. In their joint report with Sounding Board, “Coaching for Success: A New Wave of Offerings for a New Breed of Leaders,” The Josh Bersin Company outlines a holistic approach to leadership development:

Envision: What does “good leadership” mean to your organization? Each company is unique, with its own distinct vision, mission, values, and culture. Placing leadership into a specific organizational context will help define what your leadership development program should include.

Education: Organizations need formal learning and development programs to ensure leaders are aligned in business-specific processes such as setting goals and people-development.

Experience: People learn by doing. Companies must offer leaders opportunities to test and practice their leadership capabilities through experiences.

Exposure: The best lessons in leadership come from observing, talking with, and getting feedback from others. Leaders need access to coaches and mentors and exposure to outside companies and executives.

Evaluation: Leaders need to be able to assess their development and identify blind spots. Coaches and mentors can help leaders to evaluate their effectiveness as a leader and encourage real time application and practice.

Empower: Organizations can empower leaders by providing tools and technologies that make giving and receiving feedback easier, while also tracking team productivity and capacity.

A new model for leadership development at all levels

Coaching is one of the most successful ways to develop effective leadership, but due to the costs and complexities associated with traditional coaching models, most companies only assign coaches to senior executives. Depriving lower level leaders of coaching opportunities leaves the bulk of the organization rudderless. Fortunately, companies like Sounding Board now offer affordable, technology-enabled solutions to scale leadership coaching, making it more accessible to leaders at all levels.

Accessibility is just one component of the new leadership development model organizations need to create dynamic leadership. Leaders need opportunities for collaborative learning, as well as personalized one-on-one coaching. Consider integrating group coaching into a leadership development program provides opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction, exposure to executives, and experiences that help cement learnings through practice. 

What’s next?

Companies need to focus on how best to provide continuous learning to support and cement development of capabilities necessary for effective leadership. By implementing the right mix of one-on-one coaching, group coaching, live training, external mentoring, and other high-value experiences, companies can democratize leadership development across all levels of the organization — enabling and empowering leaders to navigate the organization more effectively through periods of turbulent change.

Our latest report, “Coaching for Success: A New Wave of Offerings for a New Breed of Leaders,” produced in partnership with The Josh Bersin Company, explores:

  • The six E’s of a holistic approach to leadership development
  • Why cohort-based coaching is the central piece to the new learning development model
  • How companies like Conagra and Intel adopted the new model and the success they’ve found


Download the report now to learn more.

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