Why Leadership Development Should be Central to Business Strategy

Morgan McCall, Ph.D., is scheduled to present at the i4cp 2015 Conference in March on the topic of experience-driven leadership development, in particular, the role that exceptional bosses can play.
Morgan McCall

A professor of Management and Organization at the University of Southern California in the Marshall School of Business, McCall is a recognized expert in the field of leadership talent and his research on the development and derailment of executives has appeared in numerous publications and books. McCall teaches leadership-related courses in USC's MBA programs and for the Office of Executive Education. In addition, he has worked with a number of leading companies to build leadership development programs, including 3M, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Toyota, and Yum! Brands.

In a recent interview with i4cp, McCall discussed the current state of this field and outlined some key issues facing organizations today.

What are the elements necessary for ensuring success with experience-driven leadership development?

MM: The most important element of a successful leadership development program is a culture that supports it. If leadership development is not a central part of the business strategy it will always be hit-or-miss, or as my colleague Moheet Nagrath [former CHRO of Proctor & Gamble] puts it, a hobby.

For experience-driven leadership development to work--in addition to being driven by the business strategy--there must be some way to identify key experiences as well as the people who will benefit the most from them, some mechanism for ensuring that they get the experiences they need, and a process in place for increasing the odds that they learn what they need to learn.

Given all that, the most significant factor in experience-driven development may be the immediate boss, who has the most influence on the nature of the work and what happens on the job.

Why do companies struggle with leadership development?

When the development of leaders is not central to the business strategy it tends to come and go. Usually in this scenario, human resources ends up running leadership development, even though it's the line managers who control assignments and ultimately end up receiving the developing leaders.

So the "struggle" has two sources:
  1. Not believing that leadership development is a line responsibility that is deeply embedded in the business.
  2. Not understanding how experience can be used more effectively to develop talent.

Where do you see the field of leadership development heading in the next decade?

My hope is that putting experience at the heart of the leadership development process will continue to gain traction and that we learn more about how to make this approach work effectively.

I hope to see a continued shift in developing human resource professionals around the business partner model, where they increasingly understand the business, the business strategy, the developmental potential of assignments and jobs, and the developmental needs of managers and executives with potential.

As emphasis shifts to experience-driven development, pressure will increase for bosses to play a meaningful role in the development of talent.

As a first-time i4cp Conference speaker, what inspired you to present?

My colleague, Dr. Karen Paul [talent management leader at 3M Company], spoke very highly of i4cp and asked me to get involved. Since the i4cp Conferences appear to have more senior-level HR folks than similar events like this, and since I'm always interested in hearing about the challenges and practices my peers in talent management face, I agreed to present. I'm most looking forward to meeting some new people and learning from their experiences. Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent

Dr. Morgan McCall is just one of the many notable presenters who will speak at the i4cp 2015 Conference, March 16-19, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Seats are filling quickly. Register by Jan. 23 to save $300 and avoid missing out on exclusive expert insights and the emerging human capital trends that will take your organization's people practices to the next level.

All conference attendees will receive a copy of Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent: How Organizations Leverage On-the-Job Development, co-authored by Morgan McCall, Ph.D.