5 Universal Ways to Stimulate Leader Development

We have all heard the mantra: Learn from your experiences. And according to more than 30 years of research from CCL’s Lessons of Experience project and other studies, a manager’s ability and willingness to learn from experiences is the foundation for leading with impact.

So let’s say you’re willing and able.  What types of experiences will best help you develop?

The recent study, “Grooming Top Leaders: Cultural Perspectives from China, India, Singapore and the United States,”  led CCL researchers Meena Surie Wilson, Ph.D., Ellen Van Velsor, Ph.D., N. Anand Chandrasekar, and Corey Criswell to uncover the five universally important sources of leadership learning which are most likely to stimulate leader development.

  1. Constructive bosses and superiors.These are positive role models, teachers, catalysts, mentors and negative role models who have a positive impact. As a leader, you must be mindful of your own influence and impact.
  2. Turnarounds. These involve fixing a failing or underperforming operation.  They usually involve organizational restructuring or corporate change.
  3. Increases in Scope. These involve promotion and always mean an increase in the manager’s responsibilities and visibility.
  4. Horizontal Moves. These developmental experiences transition a manager to another function, line of business, organization, industry sector or region.
  5. New Initiatives. These are ambitious plans for business growth, such as develop or launch new products and services, adopt new technologies, craft a new policy or process, build a plant or unit from scratch, develop a new market, embark on a new line of business or create a new business entity.

These “Basic Five” development experiences provide a suitable mix of opportunity that can help your organization be more intentional in developing early and mid-career managers.

Which of these five have you experienced and how were you impacted as a leader? 
Source: White Paper, “Grooming Top Leaders: Cultural
Perspectives from China, India, Singapore and the United States

About Leading Effectively Staff

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) is a top-ranked, global provider of executive education that accelerates strategy and business results by unlocking the leadership potential of individuals and organizations. Founded in 1970, CCL offers an array of research-based programs, products and services for leaders at all levels. Ranked among the world's Top 10 providers of executive education by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Financial Times, CCL is headquartered in Greensboro, NC, with offices in Colorado Springs, CO; San Diego, CA; Brussels; Moscow; Singapore; New Delhi - NCR, India and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its work is supported by 500 faculty members and staff.
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3 Responses to 5 Universal Ways to Stimulate Leader Development

  1. avatar James Hea says:

    Indeed learning from experience is invaluable. Unfortunately we learn based on the condition of our brain. If our brain is fatigued, for example, it may take longer to learn from experience. If our brain is integrated, fully awake, in many cases we can learn not only from our own experiences but from the experience and wisdom of others. The condition of the nervous system is primary. The nature of experience is secondary. A leader’s primary task is self-development, including experience, naturally but also the enlargement of his brain capacity through various practices such as getting enough rest, meditation (transcendental is preferable) and other methods that improve the condition of the nervous system. Only then will experience integrate in a meaningful way.

  2. avatar Christy Brown says:

    Great insights on the brain, James. Thank you for sharing.

  3. avatar George says:

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