Notes from the Field

Russ Volckmann

International Leadership Association Webinar
May 26, 2010
Leadership Development
Grady McGonagill and Tina Doerffer

by Russ Volckmann

volckmannConsultant McGonagill and Doerffer of the Bertelsmann Foundation presented their report of a study they did of leadership development in the United States. Their presentation was one of the best hours I have spent online for some time. I probably am greatly influenced by the fact that included in the presentation are many of the themes we have been exploring in Integral Leadership Review for several years. Among these are

  • A recognition of integral theory, along with organizational learning and Theory U as important frameworks for understanding leadership and its development.
  • A use of the distinction between leader (individual) and leadership (systemic) development.
  • A recognition that context is so important that developing leaders and leadership requires tailoring approaches to the context.
  • The importance of adult development frameworks for leader development.

The webinar was very well attended. I don’t recall the exact numbers announced at the beginning of the webinar, but there were more than a thousand attendees in more than 20 countries. They heard a very effective presentation that outlined key findings from their research report. I did get the impression that the report was significantly influenced by the researchers, but this was made explicit. The complete report can be downloaded as a pdf at:

Their work is based mainly on secondary sources, but the sources are widespread–more than 200 organizations. More importantly, their work focuses on several domains: private sector, not for profits, community and multi-stakeholder. Here are a few highlights.

Important organizational commitments to support development:

  1. Reinforce/build a supportive culture
  2. Ensure high-level sponsorship
  3. Tailor the goals and approach of the program to the context
  4. Target programs toward specific audiences
  5. Integrate all features of the program
  6. Use a variety of learning methods
  7. Offer extended learning periods with sustained support
  8. Encourage commitment to self-development
  9. Commit to continuous improvement

Seven of the most common practices for individual leader development:

  1. Job definition/assignment
  2. Action learning
  3. Assessment/feedback
  4. Formal instruction
  5. Coaching
  6. Mentoring
  7. Networking

They developed the following chart that indicates the scope of leader and leadership development. They found that some programs addressed some of the cells in the matrix, but none addressed all.


For further information, contact Grady McGonagill,
Or Tina Doerffer:

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