The seven essentials of leadership development

The development culture within organisations has to progress from relying solely on generic, classroom-based programs to development that occurs on the job. For leadership development this requires seven essential elements:

The seven essentials of leadership development

  1. We need to formalise informal learning.1 Organisations need a learning culture within an organisational structure that supports learning.
  2. There must be less push and more pull. Performance development must be self-driven to assist the acquisition of the new skills and experiences needed to succeed. According to social cognitive neuroscience, a person’s motivation to change and grow is highest when they develop their own insight.2 
  3. Social learning is an important part of knowledge. Learners learn best when they share their expertise with others.3
  4. Learning is pervasive and takes place outside of the formal learning environment through multiple channels.4
  5. Learning needs to be personalised and incorporate experience, coaching, observation and feedback. Leaders need to play a key role in the learning process of their people.
  6. Companies need to redirect their focus to learning integration on the job to optimise their learning investment.
  7. Scrap the annual evaluation cycle and replace it with ongoing feedback and coaching designed to promote continuous employee development.5

Most of these elements are within your control as the leader. It is up to you to work with your people to create the types of on-the-job development opportunities that will create targeted and lasting change. Luckily there is a simple process that can help you begin. Let me introduce you to 3D Development; it’s a three-step process to develop the leadership skills of your people.

  1. Discover
    Discover what’s going on. What is the situation all about it? What are the current impacts of the behaviour? What needs to change?
  2. Decode
    Decode the underlying motivational drivers of the current behaviour. What is the persons’ intention? What are they trying to achieve? How can you re-align their intention to get a better outcome?
  3. Design
    Design the pathway forward. What do they need to work on? How will you support them to do this? How often will you review, meet and discuss progress?

Following this simple process means your development efforts will make an impact on your team, on the culture of learning in your organisation and ultimately on the bottom line. Now who doesn’t want that??  ;-)


1. Bersin, J. (2009, May). Modern Corporate Training: Formalize Informal Learning. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from Formalizing%20Informal%20Learning%20(May%2009).pdf.
2. Rock, D. (2006). A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching. International Journal of Coaching in Organizations. 4(2), pp.32-32
3. Lieberman, M.D. (2013) Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. New York, NY: Crown p.289
4. Rayson, S. (2013).Learning at the need of speed: Top 10 tasks for L&D in 2014. [White paper]. Retrieved from learning-insights-report-2013.
5. Barry, L., Erhardt-Lewis, A., & Liakopoulos, A. (2014).Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st-century workforce. [White paper] p.45-47 Retrieved from Deloitte University Press: http://www.

Want more? This blog contains ideas from my new program leadership program based on my co-authored book Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders.

The program is designed specifically to help leaders develop leadership in others, on the job. It helps leaders to support their direct reports release the brakes on their leadership performance, achieve their potential and make the difference they were meant to make. Essentially it’s about growing people to grow the organisation, and reducing the costs associated with unintended performance blockages. Bottom line – this is about the survival and growth of your organisation. 

Contact Anneli to discuss how this program can help your leaders today.

As a professional People Whisperer, Anneli has been working with leaders and teams to improve their communication and interpersonal intelligence for almost a decade.

If you’d like to improve your interpersonal effectiveness and influence, or decode the behaviours’ of others, contact Anneli today.                     @AnneliBlundell