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Learning Objectives After studying this chapter you should be able to: • Understand the importance of leadership training and development in organizations. •
Understand how to use coaching, mentoring, action learning, special assignments, simulations, and 360-degree feedback.
Understand the benefits and limitations of the primary methods for leadership training and development.
Understand the findings in research conducted to evaluate the methods.
Understand the organizational conditions that facilitate leadership training and development.
Understand what leaders can do to encourage and facilitate the leadership development of their subordinates.
Understand what leaders can do to develop their own skills.
Understand why leader development should be integrated with human resource management and strategic planning.
The increasing rate of change in the external environment of organizations and the many new challenges facing leaders suggest that success as a leader in the twenty-first century will require a higher level of skill and some new competencies as well. As the need for leadership competencies increases, new techniques for developing them are being invented and old techniques are being refined. Leadership development is now a multibillion-dollar business in the United States (Fulmer & Vicere, 1996). Three different forms of leadership development have been identified: (1) formal training, (2) developmental activities, and (3) self-help activities. Most formal training occurs during a defined time period,and it is usually conducted away from the manager's immediate work site by training professionals (e.g., a short workshop at a training center, a management course at a university). Developmental activities are usually embedded within operational job assignments or conducted in conjunction with those assignments. The emphasis is on learning from experience, but the activities are planned to facilitate learning; it is not just a matter of random learning during perfor-
, CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills mance of regular job responsibilities. These developmental activities' can take many forms, including coaching by the boss or an outside consultant, mentoring by someone at a higher level in the organization, and special assignments that provide new challenges and opportunities for development of relevant skills.Self-help activities are carried out by individuals on their own. Examples include reading books, viewing videos, listening to audiotapes, and using interactive computer programs for skill building. The effectiveness of training programs, developmental experiences, and self-help activities depends in part on organizational conditions that facilitate or inhibit learning of leadership skills and the application of this learning by managers. Facilitating conditions include things such as support for skill development from top management, reward systems that encourage skill development, and cultural values that support continuous learning. This chapter examines various approaches for leadership development and the key facilitating conditions.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAMS Formal training programs are widely used to improve leadership in organizations. Most large organizations have management training programs of one kind or another, and many organizations send their managers to outside seminars and workshops (Saari, Johnson, McLaughlin, & Zimmerle, 1988). Most leadership training programs are designed to increase generic skills and behaviors relevant for managerial effectiveness and advancement. The training is usually designed more for lower- and middlelevel managers than for top management, and there is usually more emphasis on skills needed by managers in their current position than on skills needed to prepare for promotion to a higher position (Rothwell & Kazanas, 1994). However, the old pattern of selecting mostly "fast-track" managers for leadership training and providing it only once or twice during a manager's career is gradually being replaced by a series of leadership training opportunities that are available to any manager in the organization at appropriate points in his or her career (Vicere & Fulmer, 1997). Leadership training can take many forms, from short workshops that last only a few hours and focus on a narrow set of skills, to comprehensive programs that last for a year or more and cover a wide range of skills. Many consulting companies conduct short leadership workshops that are open to managers from different organizations. Other consulting companies design leadership training programs tailored to the needs of a particular organization. Most universities offer management development programs (e.g., Executive MBA) that take from one to three years to complete on a parttime basis. Many organizations compensate employees for the cost of attending outside workshops and courses. Many large organizations (e.g., General Electric, Motorola, Toyota, Unilever) operate a management training center or corporate university for employees (Meister, 1994). A number of training programs are based on the application of a particular leadership theory. Some examples include training programs based on LPC contingency theory (Fiedler & Chemers, 1982), the normative decision model (Vroom & Jago, 1988), transformational leadership (Bass, 1996; Bass & Avolio, 1990b), situational leadership theory (Hersey & Blanchard, 1984), and ~~J1~geriaLmotivatiQn_(Miner,1986). Reviews of research on these theory-based training programs find evidence that they
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills sometimes improve managerial effectiveness (Bass, 1990; Latham, 1988; Tetrault, Schriesheim, & Neider, 1988). However, it is important to note that most of the studies fail to establish whether improved effectiveness is the result of actually applying the theory, or is merely the result of gaining more interpersonal and administrative skill.
DESIGNING EFFECTIVE TRAINING The effectiveness of formal training programs depends greatly on how well they are designed. The design of training should take into account learning theory, the specific learning objectives, characteristics of the trainees, and practical considerations 'such as constraints and costs in relation to benefits. The current state of knowledge about learning processes does not provide precise guidelines for designing training. Nevertheless, leadership training is more likely to be successful if designed and conducted in a way that is consistent with some important findings in research on learning processes and training techniques (see reviews by Baldwin & Padgett, 1993; Campbell, 1988;Howell & Cooke, 1989;Noe & Ford, 1992;Salas & Cannon-Bowers, in press; Tannenbaum & Yukl, 1992). Key findings are summarized briefly in this section (see also Table 13-1).
Clear Learning Objectives Learning objectives describe the behaviors, skills, or knowledge trainees are expected to acquire from the training. Specific learning objectives help to clarify the purpose of the training and its relevance for trainees. In most cases it is useful to explain not only what will be learned, but also why the training is worthwhile for trainees. Thus, at the beginning of a training program, the trainer should identify clear learning objectives and explain why the training will help people improve their leadership effectiveness.
Clear, Meaningful Content The training content should be clear and meaningful. It should build on a trainee's prior knowledge, and it should focus attention on important things. The training should include lots of examples that are concrete and relevant. Periodic summaries and restatements of key points should be used to facilitate comprehension and memorization of material. Conceptual learning can be increased by providing relevant category systems, diagrams, analogies, and models. The models and theories should be simple enough to be remembered and relevant enough to help trainees interpret their experiences.
• • • • • • • •
Clearlearning objectives. Clear, meaningful content. Appropriate sequencing of content. Appropriate mix of training methods. Opportunity for active practice. Relevant, timely feedback. Trainee self-confidence. Appropriate follow-up activities.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills
Appropriate Sequencing of Content The training activities should be organized and sequenced in a way that will facilitate learning. For example, it is better to learn prerequisite concepts, symbols, rules, and procedures before doing activities that require this knowledge. Training should progress from simple to more complex ideas. Complex material should be broken into components or modules that are easier to learn separately. Appropriate intervals between training sessions provide opportunities for repeated practice, and rest breaks help to avoid fatigue during long training sessions.
Appropriate Mix of Training Methods The choice of training methods should take into account the trainee's current skill level, motivation, and capacity to understand and remember complex information. The methods should be appropriate for the knowledge, skills, attitudes, or behavior to be learned. For example, it is better to actually demonstrate a procedure than to describe it in abstract terms. The methods should be appropriate for the training conditions and setting. For example, role plays are difficult to use in a very large class. Training methods should be varied as needed to maintain trainee interest. For example, lectures longer than 30 minutes may lose the interest and attention of trainees, making it desirable to shift periodically from lecturing to discussions and exercises.
Opportunity for Active Practice Trainees should actively practice the skills to be learned (e.g., practice behaviors, recall information from memory, apply principles in doing a task). Retention and transfer are greater when a trainee must restate principles (rather than just recognizing or recalling them) and must apply the principles to varying situations and adapt them accordingly (rather than just learning one way to deal with one type of situation). Practice should occur both during the training sessions and shortly afterward in the job situation. Skills involving team activities should be practiced by the team under realistic conditions.
Relevant, Timely Feedback Trainees should receive relevant feedback from a variety of available sources, and feedback should be accurate, timely, and constructive. Learning of tasks that require analytical processing is facilitated by helping trainees monitor their own progress and evaluate what they know and don't know. Feedback may be of little value if the learner is using an inappropriate mental model and the feedback does not help the trainee develop a better one. Learning can be facilitated by showing people how to seek and use relevant feedback about their strategy for doing a task (e.g., what strategy was used, what was done correctly and what mistakes were made, what might have been done instead). Diagnostic questions, analytical procedures, and clues about the meaning of various patterns of results help people analyze and interpret performance feedback.
Enhancement of Trainee Self-Confidence The instructional processes should enhance trainee self-efficacy and expectations that the training will be successful. The trainer should communicate expectations of success and be patient and supportive with trainees who experience learning difficulties. Trainees should have ample opportunities to experience progress and success in
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills mastering the material and learning the skills. For example, training should begin with simple behaviors that can be mastered easily, then progress to more complex behaviors as trainees become more confident. Praise and encouragement should be used whenever appropriate to bolster the confidence of trainees.
Appropriate Follow-Up Activities Complex skills are difficult to learn in a short training course with limited opportunities for practice and feedback. Learning of such skills can be enhanced by appropriate follow-up activities. One useful approach is to hold a follow-up session at an appropriate interval after the training program is completed to review progress in the application of learned skills, discuss successes and problems, and provide additional coaching and support. Another useful approach is to have trainees carry out specific projects that require the use of skills learned in the training. Meetings are held periodically with the trainees to review progress, discuss what was learned, and provide additional support and coaching. Other types of follow-up activities include short refresher courses and periodic coaching sessions with individuals.
SPECIAL TECHNIQUES FOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING A large variety of methods have been used successfullyfor leadership training (Bass, 1990; Burke & Day, 1986; Latham, 1988;Tetrault et al., 1988). Lectures, demonstrations, procedural manuals, videotapes, equipment simulators, and interactive computer tutorials are used to learn technical skills. Cases, exercises, business games, simulations, and videotapes are used to learn conceptual and administrative skills. Lectures, case discussion, videotapes, role playing, and group exercises are used to learn interpersonal skills.Three techniques widely used for leadership training are behavioral role modeling, cases, and large-scale simulations. These techniques will be examined in more detail.
Behavior Role Modeling Behavior role modeling uses a combination of two older methods-demonstration and role playing-to enhance interpersonal skills. The theoretical basis for behavioral role modeling is Bandura's (1986) social learning theory. Early proponents of behavior role modeling (Goldstein & Sorcher, 1974) argued that merely presenting and demonstrating behavior guidelines is not sufficient to ensure people will learn and use behavior that is awkward, difficult, or contrary to typical ways of dealing with a tense interpersonal situation. Such behavior is unlikely to be learned unless trainees actually practice it and receive encouragement and feedback in a nonthreatening learning environment. In behavior role modeling training, small groups of trainees observe someone demonstrate how to handle a particular type of interpersonal problem (e.g., provide corrective feedback, provide coaching), then they practice the behavior in a role play and get nonthreatening feedback. The effective behaviors are usually shown on a short videotape. An alternative approach is for the trainer to model the appropriate behaviors in a role play conducted in front of the class with a trainee or another trainer. Sometimes both positive and negative behaviors are modeled to show the difference, but research on the benefits of including negative behaviors is still inconclusive (Baldwin, 1991, 1992; Trimble, Nathan, & Decker, 1991). In most programs the trainer
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills explains the learning points prior to the modeling demonstration, then trainees observe them enacted in the video. Sometimes learning points also appear on the video as the behaviors occur. The next step is for trainees to participate in a role play to practice applying the learning points. These role plays can be conducted in front of the class or in small groups. The latter approach gives several trainees the opportunity to practice at the same time and is less threatening to them. Feedback can be obtained from a variety of sources, including the trainer, other trainees who serve as observers, or a videotape of behavior in the role play. In most programs trainees are asked to develop specific action plans for implementing the behavior guidelines back on the job. After writing these action plans, trainees can discuss them in dyads, in small groups, or with the trainer privately to do some reality testing and obtain guidance and encouragement. Burke and Day (1986) conducted a meta-analysis of studies evaluating behavior modeling and concluded that it was one of the most effective training methods for managers. Subsequent. studies and reviews also support the utility of this training method (e.g., Latham, 1989; Mayer & Russell, 1987; Robertson, 1990; SmithJentsch, Salas, & Baker, 1996),but the reviewers also expressed concerns about the lim, itations of the research. Most studies found evidence of learning, but few studies measured actual behavior change back on the job or improvement in managerial effectiveness. Few studies investigated issues such as when, why, and for whom behavioral role modeling training method is effective. Another major question is the type of skills for which this training method is appropriate. Behavior role modeling seems useful for concrete behaviors that are known to be effective in a particular type of leadership situation, but there is little evidence that the method is effective for teaching flexible adaptive behaviors or cognitive knowledge. Behavior modeling programs that emphasize rigid, arbitrary learning points are unlikely to promote flexible, adaptive behavior (Parry & Reich, 1984; Robertson, 1990). Unless trainees are encouraged to understand the general principles . upon which the learning points are based, they are not prepared to deal with situations where some of the learning points are inappropriate. A possible remedy is to explain general principles, then encourage trainees to devise alternative ways for applying them in varying situations. More research is needed to resolve these questions and determine the most effective procedures for behavior modeling programs.
Case Discussion Cases are descriptions of events in an organization. There are many types of cases, ranging from long, detailed descriptions of events that occurred over a period of several years in an organization to brief descriptions of specific incidents in the life of a leader. Most cases are based on actual events, although sometimes a case is modified to make it more useful for teaching. Cases are used in a variety of ways in courses to . develop management skills. Detailed cases about an organization's competitive strategy and financial performance are used to practice analytical and decision-making skills. Trainees analyze a detailed description of a business situation and use management principles and quantitative decision techniques to determine how to deal with it. The case may be discussed in the class as a whole or in small groups that report back on their findings and recommendations. Use of small groups requires more time, but it increases the level of active
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills participation. After recommendations are presented, they are evaluated and compared to what was actually done by the organization. One potential benefit of a case is to increase understanding about situations managers encounter. By describing how different parties view a situation and feel about it, the case illustrates how the same problem may appear very different to people with different values, interests, and assumptions. For example, a conflict or controversial decision may be described from the perspective of multiple parties. Most cases are still in written form, but dramatized cases on videotape are increasingly being used to help people vicariously experience some of the more stressful and difficult situations they may encounter. Another use of cases is to increase understanding about effective managerial behavior. Trainees analyze a detailed description of a manager's actions to identify appropriate and inappropriate behavior and make recommendations about what the manager should have done or should do next. This type of case is usually short, and it emphasizes human relations aspects of management. Such cases may be used also to assess a person's ability to analyze the reason for human relations problems and identify effective ways of handling interpersonal situations. Research on the effectiveness of using cases for leadership training is still very limited. The following guidelines for trainers summarize prevailing opinions about conditions likely to facilitate learning: • Clarify expectations for trainees. Explain the purpose of the case, how it will be used, and what trainees are expected to do. • Ask questions to encourage and facilitate participation in the discussion. Be receptive to alternative viewpoints, and avoid dominating the discussion. • Emphasize the complexity of problems and the desirability of identifying alternative remedies. Use different diagnoses as an opportunity to demonstrate how people approach a problem with different assumptions, biases, and priorities. • Have trainees relate the case to their work experience. Discussing examples of similar situations they have experienced reduces dependence on the case to provide insight and provoke thought. • Vary the composition of discussion groups to expose trainees to different points of view.
Business Games and Simulations Business games and simulations have been used for many years for management training. As with cases, simulations require trainees to analyze complex problems and make decisions. However, unlike cases, trainees have to deal with the consequences of their decisions. After decisions are made, trainees usually receive feedback about what happened as a result of their decisions. Most business games emphasize quantitative financial information and are used to practice analytical and decision skills taught in a formal training program. Games can be used also to assess training needs, the success of prior training, or the validity of a manager's mental model for a particular decision situation. The most sophisticated simulations are based on a systems model of the complex causal relationships among important variables for a particular type of company and industry. Participants work individually or in small groups to make man-
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills agerial decisions about product pricing, advertising, production output, product development, and capital investment. Following is an example of one participant's experience in a computerized simulation of a start-up airline company (Kreutzer, 1993, p. 536): Sally stared blankly offinto space. What had started out so wellhad turned into a nightmare. She had taken over an airlinecompanythat had three planes and gross revenues of thirty-two million dollars a year,and in just four years she had grown the company to a half-billion-dollar firm with a fleet of 100 aircraft. She had sweatedover decisions in the areas of human resources, aircraft acquisition, marketing, pricing, and service scope, and in eachcase, her airlinehad triumphed. But then she had reached a turning point. Her market had collapsed. Her service quality had eroded.Losses had piled up so fast that the ability of her companyto absorb them wasin doubt. It would all tum around though,it had to.All she needed wasone more quarter ... But instead of the next quarter's financial reports she received notification that her creditorswere forcing-her into bankruptcy. Tune had run out ... What did I do wrong, she thought. All her decisions had seemed to make sense at the time. She reached over and pressed the save button. She would have to analyze her decisions to see what went wrong later. Right now she had another strategy she wanted to try. She hit the restart button to begin the simulation. She wasback to havingthree planes and gross revenuesof thirtytwo million dollars. Large-scale simulations evolved from business games, but they combine many of the features of other training methods such as human relations cases, role playing, the in-basket exercise, and group problem-solving exercises. Large-scale simulations emphasize interpersonal skills as much as cognitive skills and decision making. A largescale simulation typically involves a single hypothetical organization with multiple divisions (e.g., bank, plastics company). Participants are assigned to different positions in the organization and carry out the managerial responsibilities for a period of one or two days. Prior to the simulation, each participant is provided extensive background information, such as a description of the organization's products and services, financial reports, industry and market conditions, an organization chart, and the duties and responsibilities of the position. Each participant is also given copies of recent correspondence (e.g., memos, reports) with other members of the organization and outsiders. Participants have separate work spaces, but they are allowed to communicate by various media (e.g., memos, e-mail) and to schedule meetings. Participants make strategic and operational decisions just as they would in a real organization. They react to each other's decisions, but unlike business games, they usually do not receive information about the financial consequences of their decisions during the simulation itself. After the simulation is completed, participants receive feedback about group processes and their individual skills and behaviors. Feedback is usually provided by observers who track the behavior and decisions of the participants. Additional feedback can be provided by videotaping participant conversations and meetings. The facilitators help the participants understand how well they functioned as executives 'in collecting and processing information, analyzing and solving problems, communicating with others, influencing others, and planning strategy and operations. The best-known largescale simulation-called "Looking Glass"-was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership (Kaplan, Lombardo, & Mazique, 1985; Van Velsor, Ruderman, ,& Phillips,
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills 1989). It is a simulation of a glass manufacturing company. Other large-scale simulations have been developed to depict specific types of organizations such as banks, insurance companies, chemical-plastics companies, and public school systems. What participants learn from a large-scale simulation depends in part on who participates. If participants are strangers from a variety of different organizations, most of the learning will be at the level of individual self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses. However, if the participants are a "family group" of managers from the same organization, their behavior in the simulation will reflect the prevailing culture and relationships in that organization. The feedback to participants in family groups can be used to help them understand and improve their decision making and conflict resolution processes. For example, most of the managers from one company that participated in the Looking Glass simulation made hasty decisions and looked for information to justify them, rather than carefully gathering information to determine the nature of the problem and available opportunities. During the debrief, participants became aware of their ineffective behavior and realized that it was consistent with the culture of their company. The research on business games and simulations is still very limited, but there is increasing evidence they can be very useful for leadership development (Keys & Wolfe, 1990;Thornton & Cleveland, 1990;Wolfe & Roberts, 1993). Nevertheless, more research is needed to determine what types of learning occur and the conditions that facilitate learning. It was once assumed that interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills would be learned automatically by participants in a simulation. Now it is obvious that the potential benefits are unlikely to be achieved without extensive preparation, planned interventions with specific feedback and coaching during the simulation, and intensive debriefing with discussion of lessons learned after the simulation. Some serious limitations in most large-scale simulations need to be addressed. The short time period for the simulation makes it difficult for participants to make effective use of behaviors that necessarily involve a series of related actions over time, such as inspirational leadership, networking, team building, developing subordinates, and delegation. A possible remedy is to spread out the simulation sessions over several weeks, which also provides more opportunity for facilitators to provide feedback and coaching after each session. There is a continuing effort to design more flexible and realistic simulations that will extend over a longer period of time, incorporate more challenging developmental activities, and provide more feedback about participant behavior and its consequences for the organization.
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE Much of the skill essential for effective leadership is learned from experience rather than from formal training programs (Davies & Easterby-Smith, 1984; Kelleher, Finestone, & Lowy,1986; Lindsey, Homes, & McCall, 1987;McCall et-al., 1988).Assignments to administrative positions provide an opportunity to develop and refine leadership skills during the performance of regular job duties. Superiors who provide coaching and mentoring can help managers interpret their experiences and learn new skills.Appropriate values and behaviors can be learned from competent superiors who provide positive role models to emulate (McCall et al., 1988;Manz & Sims, 1981).Managers can also learn what not to do from superiors who are ineffective (Lindsey et al., 1987; McCall et al., 1988).
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills The extent to which leadership skills and values are developed during operational assignments depends on the type of experiences afforded by these assignments. Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership have studied the relationship between specific types of job experiences and leadership development (Lindsey et aI., 1987; McCall et aI., 1988; McCauley, 1986; McCauley, Lombardo, & Usher, 1989). A more recent study by Mumford and his associates (Mumford et aI., 2000) examined the relationship between experience and development of leadership skills for officers in the U.S. Army. These studies indicate that learning from experience is affected by amount of challenge, variety of tasks or assignments, and quality of feedback.
Amount of Challenge A challenging. situation is one in which there are unusual problems to solve, difficult obstacles to overcome, and risky decisions to make. The research at CCL found that challenge was greatest in jobs that required a manager to deal with change, take responsibility for high visibility problems, influence people without authority, handle external pressure, and work without much guidance or support from superiors. Some examples of challenging situations include dealing with a merger or reorganization, leading a cross-functional team or task force, implementing a major change, coping with unfavorable business conditions, turning around a weak organizational unit, making the transition to a different type of managerial position (e.g., from a functional line position to a general manager or staff position), and managing in a country with a different culture. These situations required managers to seek new information, view problems in new ways, build new relationships, try out new behaviors, learn new skills, and develop a better understanding of themselves. The researchers at CCL have developed an instrument called the "Developmental Challenge Profile" to measure the amount and types of challenge in a managerial position or assignment (McCauley, Ruderman, Ohlott, & Morrow, 1994). Experiencing success in handling difficult challenges is essential for leadership development. In the process, managers learn new skills and gain self-confidence. Learning from experience involves failure as well as success. The research at CCL also found that managers who experienced adversity and failure earlier in their career were more likely to develop and advance to a higher level than managers who experienced only a series of early successes. Types of hardship experiences found to be significant for development included failure in business decisions, mistakes in dealing with important people, career setbacks, and personal trauma (e.g., divorce, serious injury or illness). Experiencing failure may not result in beneficial learning and change unless a person accepts some responsibility for it, acknowledges personal limitations, and finds ways to overcome them (Kaplan, Kofodimos, & Drath, 1987; Kovach, 1989;McCaJI & : Lombardo, 1983a). Moreover, when the amount of stress and challenge is excessive, support and coaching may be needed to prevent people from giving up and withdrawing from the situation before development occurs.
Variety of Tasks or Assignments Growth and learning are greater when job experiences are diverse as well as challenging. Diverse job experiences require managers to adapt to new situations and deal with new types of problems. Repeated success in handling one type of problem reinforces the tendency of a person to interpret and handle new problems in the same way,
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills even when a different approach may be more effective. Thus, it is beneficial for managers to have early experience with a wide variety of problems that require different leadership behavior and skills. Some ways to provide a variety of job challenges include making special assignments within a manager's current position, rotating managers among positions in different functional subunits of the organization, providing assignments in both line and staff positions, and making foreign as well as domestic assignments.
Relevant Feedback More learning occurs during operational assignments when people get accurate feedback about their behavior and its consequences and use this feedback to analyze their experiences and learn from them. However, useful feedback about a manager's behavior is seldom provided within operational assignments, and even when available it may not result in learning. The hectic pace and unrelenting demands make introspection and self-analysis difficult in any management job. The extent to which a person is willing to accept feedback depends on some of the same traits that are related to managerial effectiveness (Bunker & Webb, 1992; Kaplan, 1990; Kelleher et al., 1986). People who are defensive and insecure tend to avoid or ignore information about their weaknesses. People who believe that most events are predetermined by uncontrollable external forces (i.e., people who do not have a high internal locus of control orientation) are less likely to accept responsibility for failure or to view feedback as a way to improve their skills and future performance. Hard-driving, achievement-oriented managers are more likely to be successful early in their careers, but these traits may also interfere with their capacity to learn how to adapt to changing situations. The obstacles to learning from experience are greatest at higher levels of management (Kaplan et al., 1987). Executives tend to become isolated from all but a small number of people with whom they interact regularly in the organization, and these people are mostly other executives who are also isolated. The very awareness that they have succeeded in attaining such a high position of power and prestige tends to give executives self-confidence about their style of management. This confidence may even progress to a feeling of superiority that causes the executive to ignore or discount criticism from others who are not so successful. Moreover, as executives become more powerful, people become more reluctant to risk offending them by providing criticism.
DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITIES A number of activities can be used to facilitate learning of relevant skills from experience on the job (see Table 13-2). These developmental activities can be used to supplement informal coaching by the boss or coworkers, and most of them can be used in conjunction with formal training programs. For example, multisource feedback from the workplace is provided to participants in some leadership training programs. Each type of activity or technique will be reviewed and evaluated briefly.
Multisource Feedback The use of behavioral feedback from multiple sources has become a popular method for management development in the past 10 years, and it is now widely used in large organizations (London & Smither, 1995). This approach is called by various
CHAPTER 13 DevelopingLeadership Skills
• • • • • • • • •
Multisource feedback workshops. Developmental assessment centers. Special assignments. Job rotation. Action learning. Mentoring. Executive coaching. Outdoor challenge programs. Personal growthprograms.
names, including "360-degree feedback" and "multirater feedback." Multisource feedback programs can be used for a variety of purposes, but the primary use is to assess the strengths and developmental needs for individual managers. The design and use of 360-degree feedback programs is described in several recent books (e.g., Lepsinger & Lucia, 1997;Tornow & London, 1998). In a feedback program, managers receive information about their skills or behavior from standardized questionnaires filled out by other people such as subordinates, peers, superiors, and sometimes outsiders such as clients (see Figure 13-1). The questionnaires used to provide feedback may be customized for a particular organization, but most feedback workshops still utilize standardized questionnaires. Sixteen survey instruments commonly used in feedback workshops are described by Van Velsor, Leslie, and Fleenor (1997), who also review the empirical evidence about the strengths and limitations of each instrument. Each participating manager receives a report that compares ratings made by others to self-ratings by the manager and to norms for other managers. Sometimes managers receive a feedback report with built-in aids for interpreting the results, but in most programs managers attend a workshop conducted by an experienced facilitator who provides assistance in interpreting the feedback and identifying developmental needs. Feedback is likely to be more accurate when the rating questionnaire has behaviors that are meaningful and easy to observe. Accurate feedback also depends on gaining the cooperation of a representative set of respondents who have interacted frequently with the manager over a period of time and have had adequate opportunity to observe the behaviors in the questionnaire. Respondents are more likely to provide accurate ratings if they understand the purpose of the survey, how the results will be used, and the procedures to ensure confidentiality of answers. Ratings are more likely to be accurate if the feedback is used only for developmental purposes and is not part of the formal performance appraisal process (London, Wohler, & Gallagher, 1990). There are many different ways to present behavioral feedback, and the format of the feedback report helps to determine how clear and useful the feedback is to the managers. Providing feedback separately for each direction (e.g., subordinates, peers, superiors) makes it more informative and easier to interpret. It is a common practice to highlight large discrepancies between what others say about a manager's behavior and self-ratings by the manager. Self-ratings that are much higher than ratings by others indicate a possible developmental need. Interpretation of feedback is facilitated by norms (e.g., percentile scores) based on a large sample of managers. Ratings of the
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Ratings by bosses
Ratings by peers
Ratings by outsiders
Ratings by subordinates
manager's behavior that are well below "normal" provide another indicator of a possible developmental need. There has been much discussion but little research on the advantages of different types and forms of feedback. Some writers have questioned the value of providing feedback based on quantitative ratings for abstract traits and vaguely defined behaviors that are difficult to observe and remember. Moses, Hollenbeck, and Sorcher (1993) suggested providing feedback on what the rater expects the manager would do in a well-defined, representative situation. Kaplan (1993) suggested supplementing numerical feedback with concrete examples of effective and ineffective behavior by the manager. The examples would be obtained by interviewing respondents or including . open-ended questions on the survey questionnaire. An example of an open-ended question is to ask respondents what they think the manager should start doing, stop doing, or continue doing (Bracken, 1994). Quantitative- feedback about a manager's current behavior can be supplemented with respondent recommendations about desirable changes in the manager's behavior. The effectiveness of multisource feedback programs depends not only on the type and form of feedback, but also on how it is presented to managers (Kaplan, 1993;Yukl & Lepsinger, 1995). Three common variations are the following: (1) managers just receive a feedback report and are left to interpret it alone, (2) managers receive a feedback report followed by a one-on-one meeting with a facilitator, (3) there is a workshop for a group of managers with a facilitator to help interpret their feedback reports.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Sometimes a group workshop is held to explain the rating categories and feedback report, then participants can meet one-on-one with a facilitator to discuss their data privately (Chappelow, 1998). When a facilitator is used, helpful behaviors include explaining the rating categories and their relevance for leadership effectiveness, preparing participants to be receptive to behavioral feedback, encouraging participants to interpret the feedback in light of their leadership situation, stressing the positive aspects of feedback as well- as negatives, helping participants work through feelings about adverse feedback, and encouraging each participant to plan how to use the feedback to improve leadership effectiveness. Despite the widespread use of multisource feedback in recent years, there has been little research to assess its effectiveness (Waldman, Atwater, & Antonioni, 1998). Three studies on multisource feedback (Bernardin, Hagan, & Kane, 1995; Hazucha, Hezlett, & Schneider,1993; Hezlett & Ronnkvist, 1996) found only weak, inconsistent evidence of improvement in skills or behavior (none of these studies was a true experiment with a control group). A larger number of studies have evaluated the effects of feedback to leaders from subordinates (Atwater, Roush, & Fischtal, 1995; Hegarty, 1974; Johnson & Ferstl, 1997; Nemeroff & Cosentino, 1979; Reilly, Smither, & Vasilopoulos, 1996;Smither et al., 1995;Wilson et al., 1990); evidence of positive change in leader behavior was found in some of these studies but not in others. With so few studies that are directly relevant, it is also worthwhile to consider results from research on feedback in other contexts. A meta-analysis of 131 quasiexperimental studies and experiments (many conducted in the laboratory) found a weak positive effect of feedback on performance (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996).The results varied greatly across studies, and in one-third of the studies there was a negative effect. Taken together, the different types of empirical research suggest that multisource feedback is useful in some situations, but not others. Feedback from other people can help a manager identify strengths and weaknesses, but the manager may not be willing or able to apply the feedback. When a multisource feedback program is used only for the development of managers, they are usually not required to share the feedback with their boss or to discuss it with the raters. Some participants may dismiss negative feedback or distort its meaning (Conger, 1992). Even when a participant acknowledges a skill deficiency and wants to improve, how to improve may not be evident. The extent to which the feedback results in improvement of skills may also depend on what training and follow-up activities occur afterward. A study by Walker and Smither (1999) found that managers were more likely to improve if they held a meeting with the raters (who were subordinates) to discuss the feedback received from them. Such a meeting provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the reason for discrepancies in self and other ratings, and it may increase the manager's sense of accountability to make use of the feedback. Other types of follow-up activities that may facilitate behavior change include skill training, coaching, and linking the manager's developmental action plan to subsequent appraisal and reward decisions (London & Smither, 1995). In summary, there is little empirical evidence to support the widespread assumption that 360-degree feedback will increase leadership skills and effectiveness. More research is needed to determine what form of feedback is most useful, the conditions under which feedback is likely to result in beneficial change, the types of skills or
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills behavior likely to be improved, and the types of managers likely to benefit from multisource feedback.
Developmental Assessment Centers As noted in Chapter 7, traditional assessment centers utilize multiple methods to measure managerial competencies and potential for advancement. These methods may include interviews, aptitude tests, personality tests, situational tests, a short autobiographical essay, a speaking exercise, and a writing exercise. Information from these diverse sources is integrated and used to develop an overall evaluation of each participant's management potential. The assessment center process typically takes two to three days, but some data collection may occur beforehand. In the past most assessment centers were used only for selection and promotion decisions, but in recent years, there has been growing interest in using assessment centers for developing managers (Boehm, 1985; Goodge, 1991; Munchus & McArthur, 1991; Rayner & Goodge, 1988). Compared to feedback workshops, developmental assessment centers use more intensive measurement procedures and a more comprehensive set of measures to increase self-understanding, identify strengths and weaknesses, and assess developmental needs. Information about a manager's behavior may be obtained from people who interact with the manager regularly and from observation of the manager in simulations and exercises. The facilitators also collect information about the manager's prior experience, motives, personality traits, skills, interests, and aspirations. Information about behavior and skills is integrated with information about motives, background, experience, and career aspirations to provide a more complete picture of the person's strengths, weaknesses, and potential. The rationale is that behavioral feedback alone is insufficient to change ineffective behavior supported by strong motives, values, and self-concepts. Helping the person to confront weaknesses and develop a better self-understanding increases the likelihood of behavior change. Participants also receive counseling about developmental needs and career choices. To avoid the inherent dangers in this enhanced feedback, Kaplan and Palus (1994) emphasize the need for careful selection of participants to screen out people who would not benefit from it (or who may not be able to handle the stress). .Studies on participant perceptions of the benefits from developmental assessment centers (e.g., Fletcher, 1990; Jones & Whitmore, 1992) and similar approaches such as the "feedback intensive programs" at CCL (Guthrie & Kelly-Radford, 1998; Young & Dixon, 1996) suggest that they can enhance self-awareness, help to identify training needs, and facilitate subsequent development of leadership skills.Two studies found evidence that developmental assessment centers can improve the later performance of managers (Engelbracht & Fischer, 1995; Papa & Graham, 1991), but the results are difficult to interpret because other developmental activities were involved (e.g., skill training, special assignments, additional coaching). As with feedback workshops, developmental assessment workshops are likely to be more successful when followed by relevant training or developmental activities, We still do not know much about the underlying psychological processes that occur in developmental assessment centers, and more research on this subject is needed. Finally, the benefits of a devel·opmental assessment center may not be limited to participants; managers who serve on the staff of these centers may also experience an increase in their managerial skills (Boehm, 1985).
Some developmental assignments can be carried out concurrently with regular job responsibilities, whereas others require taking a temporary leave from one's regular job. Lombardo and Eichinger (1989) cataloged types of special assignments that can be used to develop managerial skills in the current job. Some examples of these assignments include managing a new project or start-up operation, serving as the department representative on a cross-functional team, chairing a special task force to plan a major change or deal with a serious operational problem, developing and conducting a training program for the organizational unit, and assuming responsibility for some administrative activities previously handled by the boss (e.g.,preparing a budget, developing a strategic plan, conducting a meeting). Some examples of developmental assignments away from one's regular job include working in an assessment center, serving as an understudy or staff member for an exceptional leader in another part of the organization, serving in a temporary liaison position in another organization (e.g., a client or supplier), and serving in a visiting assignment to another organization (e.g., a manager is loaned to a government agency to help implement a major change). An example of a systematic use of developmental assignments is provided by Citibank in the 1990s (Clark & Lyness, 1991). The development of interpersonal and strategic skills was considered important to prepare managers for advancement to senior executive positions. High-potential managers were given two types of special assignments, each lasting from three to four years. One assignment involved a major strategic challenge and the other involved difficult people-management challenges. Research on the effectiveness of developmental assignments is still very limited. The longitudinal research at AT&T (see Chapter 7) provided evidence that diverse, challenging assignments early in one's career facilitated career advancement. The research at CCL and elsewhere suggests that different skills are learned from different types of challenges and hardship experiences (Lindsey et aI., 1987; McCall et aI., 1988; McCauley et aI., 1994; McCauley, Eastman, & Ohlott, 1995; Valerio, 1990). However, this research relied on the managers' retrospective reports of their own development, not on a systematic comparison among different types of assignments using measures of competencies taken before and after the assignment. We still have much to learn about what types of assignments are effective for what type of skills and what type of people. An important research question is the amount of time required to optimize learning in developmental assignments. If a person is moved too quickly, there may not be an opportunity to complete the assignment, to see the consequences of one's actions and decisions, or to reflect on one's experiences and comprehend what was learned (Ohlott, 1998). On the other hand, staying in the assignment too long can result in boredom and lost opportunities for more meaningful experiences. McCauley et al. (1995) have suggested some ways to improve the planning and use of developmental assignments. The challenges and learning opportunities provided by each type of assignment should be matched to the manager's developmental needs and career aspirations. Managers need to become more aware of the importance of developmental assignments, and they should share in the responsibility for planning them. The challenges and benefits provided by special assignments should be tracked, and this information should be related to career counseling and succession planning. After a developmental assignment is completed, it is important for a manager to reflect on
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills the experience and identify the lessons that were learned. This process of retrospective analysis is likely to increase learning from experience, and it can be facilitated by the boss, a mentor, or a training and development professional (Ohlott, 1998). Dechant (1994) suggested that learning from special assignments can be facilitated by preparation of a concrete learning plan. The person who has the assignment analyzes the task objectives, context, and job requirements for everyone who will be involved in the task. Skill requirements are compared with available skill resources, any gaps in necessary skills or knowledge are identified, and plans are made to acquire the skills or knowledge needed to carry out the assignment successfully.This process should increase the likelihood that a person will recognize and take advantage of learning opportunities in a special assignment. Learning needs for others are also identified and incorporated into the action plan for the assignment, which fosters a systems perspective. The effectiveness of developmental assignments is reduced when bias and discrimination are widespread in the organization. A variety of studies suggest that women are less likely than men to be given challenging, high-visibility assignments (e.g., Ruderman & Ohlott, 1994;Van Velsor & Hughes, 1990). Despite the existence of laws prohibiting it, discrimination based on gender, race, or age still occurs in making assignments and awarding promotions (see Chapter 14).
Job Rotation Programs In most job rotation programs, managers are assigned to work in a variety of different functional subunits of the organization for periods of time varying from six months to three years. Individuals change jobs for developmental reasons, not as the result of a promotion decision. In most formal job rotation programs, the pattern of assignments is similar for each participant and is not based on an analysis of each individual's current skills or deficiencies. Job rotation programs with substantive assignments in different subunits of an organization offer a number of developmental opportunities. Managers face the challenge of quickly learning how to establish coop. erative relationships and deal with new types of technical problems for which they lack adequate preparation. Managers can learn about the unique problems and processes in different (functional or product) subunits and the interdependencies among different parts of the organization. Job rotation also provides managers the opportunity to develop a large network of contacts in different parts of the organization. Despite the widespread use of job rotation in industry, only a few studies have been conducted to evaluate this developmental activity.A study on scientists and engineers found that they benefited in several ways from participating in a job rotation program (London, 1989). Participants reported developing higher mutual respect for other functions, a greater appreciation of the need for collaboration, and a stronger belief in the value of viewing problems from different perspectives. A study by Campion, Cheraskin, and Stevens (1994) surveyed employees in a variety of organizations to examine the costs and benefits of job rotation. Participants reported that job rotation resulted in increased managerial, technical, and business skill and knowledge. The amount of job rotation was positively correlated with the participants' rate of advancement, but the direction of causality was not clear. One interpretation is that rotation increases skills and subsequently facilitates promotion. An alternative interpretation is that managers viewed as highly skilled and promotable are
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills more likely to be selected for job rotation programs. To clarify the relationship of job rotation to skill acquisition and advancement, we need longitudinal research with repeated measurement ,of key variables at appropriate intervals. The study by Campion et a1. (1994) showed that job rotation also has some costs. One cost is lower productivity for the rotated individuals, which is due to the normal learning curve for a new type of job. When the rotated individuals occupy managerial positions, their lack of technical expertise is likely to adversely affect the productivity of subordinates as well. Another cost is lower satisfaction for people in the functional units who are required to accommodate and assist the managers. These people often resent having to do extra work to help "fast trackers" move on to an eventual promotion for which they a,re not eligible. In the absence of more information about the costs and benefits of job rotation, it is difficult to determine how much rotation is desirable or how long managers should remain in each position. We still have little knowledge about how long it takes to become effective in a different type of managerial position, or how long it takes for the desired learning to occur. It is evident that frequent job rotation can reduce satisfaction and cohesiveness, but we know little about the conditions required for this effect to occur. The feasibility of job rotation programs may be limited by some of the current trends in organizations. For example, downsizing leaves fewer available positions to support job rotation programs. Furthermore, managers in a downsized organization will be more reluctant to lose an experienced subordinate in exchange for an inexperienced, temporary substitute (Hall & Foulkes, 1991). A question that deserves more attention is whether the benefits of job rotation can be achieved with other types of special assignments that are less costly.
Action Learning Action learning is an approach used widely in Europe for combining formal management training with learning from experience (Margerison, 1988; Revans, 1982). A typical program of action learning is conducted over a period of several months and includes field project work interspersed with skill training seminars. Individuals or teams conduct field projects on complex organizational problems requiring, use of skills learned in formal training sessions. The emphasis is on developing cognitive and interpersonal skills rather than technical knowledge. The managers meet periodically with a skilled facilitator to discuss, analyze, and learn from their experiences. Most action learning projects are linked to formal training, but an alternative approach is to have managers link the projects to a process of mutual coaching and mentoring (Smith, 1990). An individual manager identifies an important organizational problem that cannot be solved alone and also identifies some people who can contribute to the problem solving. The project participants identify learning objectives for themselves and each other. The group meets periodically to devise solutions to the problem, evaluate progress, and discuss what was learned. The effectiveness of action learning for developing leadership skills probably depends on the type of project, the composition of the team, and the type of coaching provided. If the scope of the project is narrow, managers may learn very specific skills that do not apply to other types of situations (Baldwin & Padgett, 1993). Unless the project involves considerable challenge, it is unlikely to provide much learning of leadership skills. More learning is likely when projects are assigned to teams rather than to
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills individual managers. Marsick (1990) found that action learning works best when teams are composed of people with diverse backgrounds so that participants are exposed to different viewpoints and perspectives. Only a few studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of action learning, and the results were inconclusive (Marson & Bruff, 1992; McCauley & Hughes-James, 1994; Prideaux & Ford, 1988). A limitation of these studies was reliance on selfreported benefits rather than objective indicators of behavior change and performance improvement. Research is needed with experimental designs to determine the unique benefits from developmental projects and to identify the project characteristics likely to embody sufficient challenge and opportunity for learning leadership skills.
Mentoring In the last decade there has been increasing interest in use of formal mentoring programs to facilitate management development (Noe, 1991). Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced manager helps a less experienced protege; the mentor is usually at a higher managerial level and is not the protege's immediate boss. Research on mentors (Kram, 1985; Noe, 1988) finds that they provide two distinct types of functions for the protege: a psychosocial function (acceptance, encouragement, coaching, counseling) and a career-facilitation function (sponsorship, protection, challenging assignments, exposure and visibility). Mentors can facilitate adjustment, learning, and stress reduction during difficult job transitions, such as promotion to one's first managerial position, a transfer or promotion to a different functional unit in the organization, an assignment in a foreign country, or assignments in an organization that has been merged, reorganized, or downsized (Kram & Hall, 1989; Zey, 1988). Several studies show that mentoring results in more career advancement and success for the protege (Chao, Walz, & Gardner, 1992; Dreher & Ash, 1990; Fagenson, 1989; Scandura, 1992; Turban & Dougherty, 1994; Whitely & Coetsier, 1993). Mentors may also benefit from the mentoring experience, because it is likely to increase their job satisfaction and help them develop their own leadership skills. A study by Wilbur (1987) found that career advancement in a service company was predicted both by mentoring given and mentoring received. Despite the potential benefits from mentoring it is not always successful. Researchers have begun to investigate the conditions likely to increase the effectiveness of mentoring. Some of the research suggests that informal mentoring is more successful then formal mentoring programs. For example, Noe (1988) found that personality conflicts and lack of mentor commitment were more likely to occur with assigned mentors. The difference between formal and informal mentoring may be due primarily to the way a formal program is conducted, including the selection and training of the mentors. The success of a formal mentoring program is probably increased by making participation voluntary, by providing mentors some choice of a protege, by explaining the benefits and pitfalls, and by clarifying the expected roles and processes for both mentor and protege (Chao et al., 1992; Hunt & Michael, 1983). Proteges can be proactive in initiating mentoring relationships rather than waiting for a mentor to select them, especially in an organization that supports this type of developmental activity. Turban and Dougherty (1994) found that proteges were more likely to initiate mentoring relationships and get more mentoring if they had high emotional stability, self-monitoring, and an internal locus of control orientation.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Mentoring is also affected by some demographic factors such as age, gender, and race. Women and minorities have special problems finding successful mentoring relationships (Ilgen & Youtz, 1986; Ohlott, Ruderman, & McCauley, 1994; Noe, 1988; Ragins & Cotton, 1991, 1993; Ragins & McFarlin, 1990;Thomas, 1990). Common difficulties women encounter in mentoring relationships include stereotypes about appropriate behavior, concern about intimacy with men, awkwardness about discussing some subjects, lack of appropriate role models, resentment by peers, and exclusion from male networks. Some of these difficulties remain even when women mentor women. Despite the difficulties, some empirical studies found no evidence that gender affects the success ofmentoring (e.g.,Dreher & Ash, 1990;Turban & Dougherty, 1994). In general, the research suggests that mentoring can be a useful technique for facilitating career advancement, adjustment to change, and job satisfaction of a protege. However, there is little research yet on the ways a mentor actually facilitates development of leadership competencies in a protege. Little is known about the skills, values, and behaviors most likely to be acquired or enhanced in a mentoring relationship, the learning processes, and the conditions facilitating development.
Executive Coaching In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the popularity of individual coaching as another type of developmental intervention for leaders in business organizations (Hall, Otazo, & Hollenbeck, 1999; Kilburg, 1996; Peterson, 1996). The type of leader who receives coaching is usually a high-level executive. The person who provides the coaching may be an external or internal consultant. The coach is usually either a successful former executive or a behavioral scientist with extensive experience as a management consultant. Use of an external coach has some advantages such as wider experience, greater objectivity, and more confidentiality. An internal coach has other advantages, such as easy availability, more knowledge of the culture and politics, and a better understanding of the strategic challenges and core competencies. The primary purpose of executive coaching is to facilitate learning of relevant skills. Coaches also provide advice about how to handle specific challenges, such as implementing a major change, dealing with a difficult boss, or working with people from a different culture. Having a coach provides the unusual opportunity to discuss' issues and try out ideas with someone who can understand them and provide helpful, objective feedback and suggestions, while maintaining strict confidentiality. Executive coaching is especially useful in conjunction with techniques that provide information about developmental needs but do not directly improve skills (e.g., multisource feedback, developmental assessment center). An executive coach is not a permanent mentor, and the coach is usually employed for a limited period of time ranging from a few months to a few years. Coaching may be . provided on a weekly or biweekly basis, and in extreme cases, the coach may be "on call" to provide advice whenever needed. Sometimes the decision to obtain coaching is made by the executive, and other times it is made by higher management to help prepare an executive for advancement, or to prevent derailment. Executive coaching has several advantages over formal training courses, including convenience, confidentiality, flexibility, and more personal attention. One obvious disadvantage is the high expense of one-on-one coaching, even when used for a limited time.The high cost is one reason why personal coaching is used primarily for executives.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Another limitation is the shortage of competent coaches. It is important to find a coach who is able to establish a good working 'relationship with the executive while also remaining objective and professional. The coach should not have a personal agenda such as, excessive bias for a particular theory, the desire to sell more consulting time (for an external consultant), or the desire for more power (for an internal consultant). Organizations need clear guidelines regarding the selection and use of executive coaches to avoid the potential problems with this developmental technique (Hall et al., 1999). The executives who are being coached usually value honest, accurate feedback about strengths and weaknesses, as well as clear, relevant advice about ways to become more effective. Examples of the types of behaviors and skills that can be enhanced by a coach include listening, communicating, influencing people, building relationships, handling conflicts, team building, initiating change, conducting meetings, and developing subordinates. The coach can also provide advice about other things the executive can do to acquire relevant knowledge and skills. Guidelines for effective coaching of executives can be found in recent books on the subject (e.g., Dotlich & Cairo, 1999). As yet there has been little research on the effects of executive coaching on personal development and leadership effectiveness, but the limited evidence is favorable. Hall et al. (1999) interviewed a sample of 75 executives from six companies who had experienced executive coaching. Most of the respondents evaluated the coaching as very satisfactory. The executives reported that it helped them acquire new skills, attitudes, or perspectives. As a result of the coaching, they were able to solve problems better and accomplish things they could not do previously. A quasi-experimental study by Olivero, Bane, and Kopelman (1997) assessed the effects of executive coaching in a public agency. Managers in the agency received a three-day training workshop, followed by eight weeks of coaching related to individual action learning projects. The training resulted in higher productivity for the managers, and personal coaching augmented this increase. The coaching had a stronger effect than the training. A limitation of the study was the lack of information about changes in the managers' attitudes, skills, or behaviors, which could explain why productivity increased.
Outdoor Challenge Programs Outdoor challenge programs involve physical activities performed by a group of people in an outdoor setting (Galagan, 1987). The typical program involves a sequence of increasingly challenging physical activities that require mutual trust and cooperation among group members. An experienced facilitator conducts the activities, provides coaching and encouragement, and helps participants understand the link between their experiences in an activity and organizational life. One type of activity commonly used early in the program is to have each group member take a turn falling backward off a wall into the hands of waiting teammates. An example of a more difficult activity is the pole climb; each participant must climb a 25-foot pole to a small platform at the top, then jump to a trapeze hanging 12 feet away. The exercise is actually quite safe, but participants perceive it to be very risky. Despite wearing a helmet and a harness with a safety line held by teammates, most participants experience fear when standing at the top of a swaying pole that seems much higher than it actually is.Teammates below watch the person on the pole with rapt attention, provide continuous encouragement, and share in the feeling of accomplishment after a successful jump. In
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills some outdoor challenge programs, groups travel to a real wilderness area to perform activities such as rappelling down a cliff or whitewater rafting. The purpose of outdoor adventure programs is personal growth and team building (Conger, 1992). Personal growth comes from increased awareness of one's own feelings, and the possibility that feelings can be discrepant from cognitions (e.g., despite "knowing" an activity is safe, you are still scared). The developmental activities are designed to increase self-confidence, self-control, risk taking, and willingness to give and receive trust. Team building is facilitated by exercises that help participants learn the importance of mutual trust and cooperation. A series of such exercises by the same group over a period of two or more days provides a "bonding" experience that usually results in strong group identification and cohesiveness. When the group is an intact management team from an organization, the hope is that increased trust and cohesiveness will transfer back to the workplace. Outdoor challenge programs have been used increasingly for managers in recent years, but only a few studies have investigated the effectiveness of this developmental technique for improving leadership. Gall (1987) found that turnover dropped 10 percent for a group of managers who were in an outdoor challenge program but remained constant for a group of managers not in the program: Marsh, Richards, and Barnes (1987) found long-term improvements in the self-concept of managers who participated in an Outward Bound program. Baldwin, Wagner, and Roland (1991) compared the attitudes of program participants to nonparticipants three months after an outdoor challenge program and found no significant difference in positive self-concept or trust. However, they found that perceptions of teamwork and individual problem solving increased for participants, especially when intact groups were used. In summary, the results are somewhat inconsistent, and more research is needed with objective indicators of improvement in leadership effectiveness.
Personal Growth Programs Personal growth programs are designed to improve self-awareness and overcome inner barriers to psychological growth and development of leadership competencies. These programs evolved from the humanistic psychology movement in the 1960s, and many of the founders had prior experience in programs emphasizing development of human potential, such as the Peace Corps and the National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine (Conger, 1993). Personal growth workshops are based on a series of interrelated assumptions about people and leadership. One key assumption is that many people have lost touch with their inner feelings and values. Inner fears and conflicts, which are often unconscious, limit creativity and risk taking. Before one can become a successful leader, it is necessary to reconnect with one's feelings, confront the latent fears, and resolve the underlying conflicts. Another key assumption is that successful leadership requires a high level of emotional and moral development. A person with high emotional matu- ' rity and integrity is more likely to put devotion to a worthwhile cause above selfinterest and become a supportive, inspiring, and empowering leader. Understanding your own values, needs, and feelings is necessary to determine whether you are able to provide this type of leadership, and indeed, whether it is really what you want to do. Personal growth programs are usually conducted at a conference center, and the program may last from two days to a week. Participants are usually managers who do
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills not work together, but sometimes a personal growth program is conducted for an intact management group. The programs typically have a series of psychological exercises in which participants attempt to understand their purpose for living and working and share this understanding with each other. Sometimes outdoor challenge activities are incorporated into the program to increase the experience of shared risk taking. An experienced facilitator presents conceptual models and conducts the exercises. The models usually describe how human development occurs, how organizations change over time, and the role of leadership in organizational change. An example of an early exercise is to have each participant explain to the group his or her purpose in attending the program. This exercise begins the process of developing self-understanding. In another, more intensive exercise,participants are told to imagine their company has been acquired and only the three best leaders will be retained in the newly merged organization. Each person has five minutes to prepare a two-minute appeal describing his or her positive leadership qualities and reasons to be retained (a variation of this exercise is to imagine oneself at sea in a sinking boat with a small life raft that will only allow three people to be saved). Participants discuss each appeal and vote to determine the three people who have made the most convincing case. An important exercise near the end of most programs is for each participant to develop a personal vision for the future and present it to the rest of the group. To facilitate development of a vision, participants are encouraged to imagine they are at the end of their lives and have achieved a sense of completion and gratitude; now they must consider what they have done and how they have lived to reach that state. After each presentation, the audience provides feedback on whether they perceive the vision to be sincere and right for the person. Personal growth programs usually involve strong emotional experiences and are more likely than most training programs to have a lasting effect on participants. The changes may include an increase in interpersonal skills relevant for leadership. However, it is also possible that some participants will change in ways that reduce leadership effectiveness '(Conger, 1993). Successful leadership often involves a passionate pursuit of a vision or cause, which sometimes requires sacrificing aspects of one's personal and family life.The net effect of personal growth programs that encourage people to find a better balance between their work and personal life may be to reduce commitment to the organization. Moreover, increased awareness of unconscious needs and conflicts does not necessarily result in their resolution, and the experience is sometimes more detrimental than helpful to the person. As yet there has been little research to evaluate the consequences of personal growth programs for leaders, followers, or the organization.
SELF-HELP ACTIVITIES The focus of this chapter is on what organizations can do to develop the leadership skills of their members, not on what an individual can do to develop his or her own skills. Nevertheless, as noted in the introduction to this chapter, self-help activities provide another approach to enhance leadership skills. There are many self-help techniques for improving leadership, including practitioner books, commercial videotapes, and interactive computer programs. Some of these techniques are intended to be a substitute for formal training programs, some are used to supplement training, and others
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills
are intended to facilitate learning from experience. Unfortunately, there is almost no empirical research on the effectiveness of self-learning techniques (Baldwin & Padgett, 1993). We know little about the benefits derived from them or the extent to which they can substitute for formal instruction. Research is needed to evaluate how much self-help activities contribute to the development of leadership competencies, and the conditions under which these activities are most effective. Table 13-3 provides a list of tentative recommendations for self-development of leadership skills.
FACILITATING CONDITIONS FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Regardless of the developmental methods that are used (formal training, experientiallearning, self-learning activities), the acquisition of leadership skills is facilitated by some conditions within an organization. These conditions help to determine how much training is provided, how much job challenge people experience, how much feedback is provided, how much people are encouraged to learn new skills, how much people are motivated to help others learn, and how people interpret mistakes and failure. Some of the most important conditions will be examined briefly.
Support by the Boss The immediate boss has considerable influence on a person's leadership development. Unfortunately, many bosses fail to do the things that are necessary to facilitate development of leadership skills in subordinates (Hillman, Schwandt, & Bartz, 1990; London & Mone, 1987;Valerio, 1990).A boss who does not understand the importance of coaching and mentoring is unlikely to provide much of it to subordinates. Bosses who are preoccupied with immediate crises or their own career advancement are unlikely to spend much time developing subordinates as leaders. Bosses who are insecure are unlikely to develop subordinates who could become potential competitors. Development will also be impeded by bosses who treat mistakes by subordinates as personal failures rather than learning experiences. Even for managers who want to develop subordinates, it is difficult to find the right balance between providing necessary guidance and encouraging them to solve problems independently. A boss who is overly protective of subordinates and fails to provide enough challenge and honest feedback to them is unlikely to be successful in developing their leadership skills. Motivation to learn leadership skills and apply them at work is also influenced by the extent to which a person's boss promotes and supports training activities (Facteau, Dobbins, Russell, Ladd, & Kudisch, 1995; Ford, Quinones, Sego, & Sorra, 1992; Hand,
• • • • • • • •
Develop a personal vision of career objectives. Seek appropriate mentors. Seek challenging assignments. Improve self-monitoring. Seek relevant feedback. Learn from mistakes. Learn to viewevents from multipleperspectives. Be skeptical of easy answers.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Richards, & Slocum, 1973; Huczynski & Lewis, 1980; Kozlowski & Hults, 1987; Noe & Schmitt, 1986; Rouiller & Goldstein, 1993; Tracey, Tannenbaum & Kavanagh, 1995). Some things a boss can do to enhance learning and its subsequent application are listed in Table 13-4.
Learning Climate The amount of management training and development that occurs in an organization depends in part on prevailing attitudes and values about development, sometimes referred to as the "learning climate" (Ford & Weissbein, 1997). These general conditions augment the influence of a manager's immediate boss. More leadership development is likely when individual learning is regarded as highly important for organizational effectiveness. In such an organization, more resources will be devoted to training, and more effort will be made to explicitly measure and reward learning. Managers will provide more coaching and mentoring when these activities are explicitly measured and rewarded. More members of the organization will be encouraged to seek opportunities for personal growth and skill acquisition. For example, a person is more likely to accept a difficult, high-risk assignment if performance in the assignment will be evaluated in terms of skill development as well as task success. A supportive organizational climate and culture also encourages managers to apply the skills they have learned in training or developmental experiences. Many things can be done to create and maintain a supportive climate for continuous learning and development. Some examples include the following: (1) make job assignments that allow people to pursue their interests and learn new skills, (2) establish work schedules that allow enough free time to experiment with new methods, (3) provide financial support for continuing education by employees, (4) arrange special speakers and skill workshops for employees, (5) establish a sabbatical program to allow employees to renew themselves, (6) establish a career counseling program to help employees develop self-awareness and find ways to achieve their full potential, (7) establish voluntary skill assessment and feedback programs, (8) make pay increases
Before the Training:
• • • • • • •
Inform subordinates about opportunities to get training. Explain why the training is important and beneficial. Ask others who received the training to explain how it was useful. Change the work schedule to make it easier to attend training. Give a subordinate time off if necessary to prepare for the training. Support preparation activities such as distribution of questionnaires. Tell subordinates they willbe asked to report on what was learned.
After the Training:
• • • • • • • •
Meet with the person to discuss what was learned and how it can be applied. Jointly set specific objectives and action plans to use what waslearned. Make assignments that require use of newlylearned skills. Hold periodic reviewsessions to monitor progress in applying learning. Provide praise for applying the skills. Provide encouragement and coaching when difficulties are encountered. Include applicationof new skills in performance appraisals. Set an examplefor trainees by using the skills yourself.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills partly dependent on skill development, (9) provide awards for innovations and improvements, and (10) use symbols and slogans that embody values such as experimentation, flexibility, adaptation, self-development, continuous learning, and innovation.
Developmental Criteria for Placement Decisions
At present, most organizations do not make job assignments that explicitly provide adequate developmental opportunities and a logical progression of learning . (Baldwin & Padgett, 1993). The idea of using job assignments for leadership development is somewhat at odds with the traditional approach to selection and placement in an organization, which seeks a good match between manager skills and job requirements (Ruderman, Ohlott, & McCauley, 1990). It is common practice to label someone as a specialist in a particular type of activity or problem and assign the same types of activities or tasks repeatedly to the person. Most organizations promote individuals to higher positions within the same functional specialty rather than moving them to management positions in a different functional specialty. Assigning a challenging job to someone who does not already have all of the necessary skills is likely to increase development, but it entails a risk of serious mistakes and failure. Even if the person is successful, it will require a longer learning period to master the job. Thus, it is not surprising that most organizations try to select the person with the best skills for a managerial position. More leadership development is likely to occur when executives are aware of the developmental opportunities in operational assignments and value development enough to risk giving important jobs to people who have not already demonstrated experience in performing them (Hall & Foulkes, 1991). There is evidence from one study that consideration of developmental needs when making succession planning decisions is likely to result in better performance for the organization (Friedman, 1986). Developmental objectives are more likely to be incorporated into placement decisions when top executives have a systems perspective on leadership development.
A SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE ON LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT The common distinction among formal training programs, developmental activities, and self-help activities is useful up to a point, but it implies that the categories are mutually exclusive. In fact, there is overlap among the different categories, and new learning technologies are increasing the overlap (see Figure 13-2). The three approaches are interrelated in complex ways.
Relationships Among Approaches Learning acquired from one approach can facilitate or enhance learning from the other approaches. For example, a self-help activity such as using a computer interactive program may be useful to prepare for a developmental assignment. Short courses or workshops are useful to prepare someone for a special operational assignment, or to strengthen skills identified as deficient in a developmental assessment center or 360degree feedback. Sometimes the approaches are used in conjunction with each other. Action learning projects often combine formal training with learning from experience, and participants are encouraged to use self-help activities and peer coaching to acquire additional
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Formal training
knowledge as needed for the project. Realistic simulations can be used as a selfcontained developmental experience or as part of a formal training course. Some formal leadership development courses now include 360-degree feedback for participants from their coworkers. Personal growth activities are also included now in some leadership courses. Special mentors can be assigned to people who have developmental assignments, or designated resource people may be available on the Internet to provide advice and coaching as needed. There has been little research on the relative advantage of training, developmental activities, and self-help activities for learning different types of leadership skills. For each type of skill there may be one approach that is much more effective than the others. Likewise, little is known about the best way to combine training, development, and self-help activities to maximize mutual enhancement of learning.
Integrating Developmental Activities In most organizations there is little integration of leadership training and development activities with each other or with related human resources practices such a~ performance appraisal, career counseling, and succession planning. Decisions about what types of training and development to provide are often influenced by current fads and vendor hype rather than by a systematic analysis of essential competencies that need to be enhanced. Promotion decisions are often influenced more by a person's prior performance than by rigorous assessment of competencies needed to perform effectively in the next position. As a consequence of poor selection and development, many top executives end up derailing for weaknesses that could have been predicted in advance (McCall, 1998).
CHAPTER 13 DevelopingLeadership Skills
Planning of developmental experiences for individual managers is often haphazard and unsystematic when it is determined independently by each manager's current boss and is passed on from one boss to the next. Few organizations have a specialized position with primary responsibility for planning and coordinating the overall process of leadership development for the organization. McCall (1992) recommended using a developmental facilitator or committee to identify essential competencies for the organization, design tracking systems to assess current skills and developmental needs of individual managers, identify assignments that have high developmental potential, sponsor special training programs when needed, find ways to strengthen rewards for . managers who develop subordinates, and promote greater use of developmental activities such as mentors, special assignments, and feedback workshops. To be optimally effective, leadership development must be consistent with an organization's competitive strategy as well as with other human resource activities (McCall, 1998; Vicere & Fulmer, 1996). Unfortunately, the developmental activities in most organizations are not based on strategic business objectives, and there is seldom any effort even to determine if they are relevant to these objectives. The disconnect between developmental activities and strategic objectives probably reflects a lack of understanding about the interdependencies between them. We are only beginning to learn how developmental activities affect the acquisition of leadership competencies and how these competencies are related to organizational effectiveness. In a time of rapid change, it is not easy to predict the extent to which specific competencies will continue to be relevant in the future. Thus, even when top executives realize leadership development should be guided by strategic objectives, it is difficult to design developmental systems that will meet the needs of an organization in a turbulent environment. Some suggestions on how to do it can be found in recent books (e.g., McCall, 1998; Moxley & O'Connor-Wilson, 1998;Vicere & Fulmer, 1996).
SUMMARY Training of leadership skills is conducted by universities, consulting companies, and organization training centers. Despite the massive volume of formal leadership training that occurs, there has been relatively little research on its effectiveness. Training methods such as behavior role modeling, cases, and simulations appear very promising, but we need to learn more about how to use these techniques for enhancing leadership skills. The importance of learning from experience on the job is now widely acknowledged, and researchers have begun to map the relationships between specific experiences and specific leadership competencies. In general, more development occurs for managers who have challenging experiences that require adaptation to new situations and provide opportunity to learn to deal with a variety of different types of problems and hardships. More learning. also occurs when people get accurate feedback about their behavior and its consequences and use this feedback to analyze their experiences and learn from them. Developmental techniques that have the potential to increase learning from experience include multisource feedback workshops, developmental assessment centers, special assignments, job rotation, action learning, mentoring, personal growth programs, executive coaching, and outdoor challenge programs. Although most of these
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills developmental techniques are widely used, the amount of research to evaluate their effectiveness is still very limited. We have only begun to learn what types ofleadership competencies are enhanced by each technique, the optimal conditions for using it, and the type of people most likely to benefit from it. The extent to which leadership competencies are acquired and used depends on the type of developmental activities that occur (e.g., training, experiential learning, self-learning), facilitating conditions (e.g., boss support, learning environment), and qualities of the individual managers (e.g., flexible, pragmatic, learning oriented). Training and development are more effective when they are coordinated with each other, supported by a strong learning culture, and integrated with other human resource activities such as career counseling, staffing decisions, performance appraisal, and succession planning. It is essential to integrate these different elements to create and sustain favorable conditions for leadership development. It is also imperative for leadership development to be consistent with an organization's strategic objectives. A systems approach to leadership development will become more common as more organizations realize that this activity is as strategically important for long-term organizational effectiveness as product development, marketing, and customer service (Hall & Seibert, 1992;McCall, 1992).
Review and Discussion Questions 1. How useful are cases, behavioral role modeling, and large-scale simulations for leadership training? 2. What features of a training program are likely to make it more effective? 3. What conditions facilitate learning from experience by managers, and what obstacles impede learning? 4. How are special assignments and job rotation programs relevant for development of leadership skills? 5. What are the likely benefits of mentoring for developing leaders? 6. What are the similarities and differences between multisource feedback workshops and developmental assessment centers? 7. What is action learning, and how is it relevant for leadership development? 8. What are the objectives and common assumptions of outdoor challenge programs and personal growth programs? 9. What conditions in an organization enhance leadership development? 10. What can be done to integrate the leadership training, development, and self-help activities? 11. Why is it important for the leadership development programs in an organization to be consistent with the human resource management practices and the competitive strategy? Key Terms action learning behaviorrole modeling case discussion developmental assessment centers developmental assignments
multisource feedback outdoor challenge programs personal growthprograms self-help activities simulations
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills
CASE Federated IndLMtrieef \ 'Patricia Paterson is the new VP for Human Resources at Federated Industries, a conglomerate with several diverse subsidiaries. Her primary responsibility is to provide support and advice to each subsidiary and monifor their personnel practices to ensure" they are consistent with corporate policy and strategy. She reports directly to the CEO of Federated. The CEO is concerned that not enough capable leaders are coming up through the ranks. The subsidiaries have complete responsibility for their own internal management devel,.. opment, but the CEO wonders if it is time for a more uniform approach. The CEO asked Patricia to find out what each subsidiary is doing to develop leadership skills, then report back with recommendations for improving leadership development overall at Federated Industries. Patricia arranged to meet with the personnel directors of the three major subsidiaries and asked each director to prepare a short briefing. The first director to speak was Peter Proskin, from an engineering company. He explained that his company provides only technical training, because they do not have the staff to provide management training. All management training is done outside the company. A manager (or an employee who wants to become a manager) can look at the listing on available training and request any seminar or workshop that appears relevant. If the employee's boss approves the request, the manager is sent to the training at company expense. Some employees are enrolled in the evening MBA degree program at the local university,and they are reimbursed for half of the tuition cost. Peter said they do not pay com-
plete tuition for degree programs, because it is very costly. After some employees finish their MBA, they leave for higher-paying jobs at other companies eager to get people who have managerial as well as technical skills. The second director to report was Alice Alston, from a company that makes consumer products. She explained that the company has a program to develop leadership skills in high potential managers. Managers at each level are encouraged to identify a promising subordinate to mentor. The protege gets lots of personal coaching and is given special, developmental assignments. For example, a couple of junior managers are put on each executive committee to learn about strategic issues and observe how the senior managers work. Other assignments include serving on crossfunctional project teams and carrying out improvement projects such as studying work processes and recommending ways to make them more efficient. Alice said that most of the mentors and proteges like the program. However, people not in the program (roughly two-thirds of the employees) sometimes complain about the lack of developmental opportunity in the company. The last director to speak was Hal Harwick, from an electronics company. Hal explained that they concentrate their training on managers who have already demonstrated their executive capacity. The six most promising managers below the top executive level are selected to participate in a series of seminars held once a month. Each seminar is conducted by one of the top executives, who talks about company' activities in his or her area of expertise.
CHAPTER 13 Developing Leadership Skills Three or four times a year, Hal arranges for an outside consultant to conduct a training workshop on a specific topic such as project management, budgeting, or delegation. The participating managers know they are fasttrackers in line for promotion to top management. They like the program and have
told him it is very worthwhile. When one of them is promoted, another promising manager is selected for the program by the top management team. The only drawback is the political infighting that sometimes occurs when executives try to get their proteges selected for the program. •