What Is Leadership Development?

As defined, leadership development refers to any method or activity that aims to enhance the quality of leadership within an individual or a person heading an organization. Before, leadership development activities are very rigid, formal and strict because the people who are conducting them want to ensure that everything should be in a formal setting. The leadership development activities before were only confined to Masters in Business Administration (MBA) style programs that are usually offered in prestigious universities and business schools.

But now, the trends in leadership development have shifted into a more laid back and personal setting. Although there is still the serious and formal aspect of it, many people who conduct it are incorporating other means to motivate the participants to actively join the sessions. Some of the trends in leadership development these days include action learning which uses movements in teaching leadership values.

Others make use of trails, adventure courses as well as high-ropes to help participants discover their inner leadership potentials. There are also those who indulge in executive retreats believing that these busy people need a quiet and peaceful environment to reflect on their issues and hopefully, come out as better individuals and better leaders.

Types of leadership development

Leadership development can be applied into two settings—an individual setting or a group setting. In developing individual leaders, traditional approaches are usually used. These usually focus on targeting the individual’s leadership abilities as well as assessing the attitudes of individuals when it comes to leading other people or an organization.

Experts say that leadership may be innate to some people but if not recognized early and not nurtured properly, the effectiveness of his or her ability to lead may decrease over a period of time. To help people with innate leadership skills achieve their fullest potentials, it is a must for them to undergo leadership development as soon as possible.

However, individual leadership development may be hard at first since it is not easy to deal with different personal characteristics that usually hinder the effectiveness of a person’s leadership. Experts say that for an individual to enhance his or her leadership, he or she must undergo formalized programs to address issues and improve leadership competencies. But individuals can enhance their leadership skills on their own by developing their focus and their persistence in learning new things.

Aside from developing individual leadership, there is another method of getting the best out of a leader and that is through the help of other people. Unlike in individual leadership development that focuses on specific attributes of a leader such as behavior, ways of thinking, or feeling, the collective leadership development focuses on the development of leadership as a process.

Meaning, this type of leadership development will target interpersonal relationships, the social influence process, and the team dynamics between the leader and his/her team. It will also focus on factors that surround the team such as the organizational climate as well as the social network linkages among the organization and between its members.

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