Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reflections on McCall, M.W. (2010). Recasting Leadership Development. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice

Literature in the area of leadership development is consistently illustrated the benefits of experiential learning verse standard HR systems (McCall, 2010). The authors suggest that true leadership development starts with selection. If leaders are selected who 1) believe leadership is critical to the business, 2) accept that individuals can be taught to lead, 3) believe individuals learn through hands on experience and 4) that they can have a futuristic perspective of the benefits of modeling leadership behavior.

The major factors that may be holding business and executives back from implementing experiential leadership development include possible failures, bottom line focus, and the preserved value of PEOPLE. McCall (2010) plays devil’s advocate for the reader in identifying the counter arguments and suggesting potential solutions. For example, many executives have seem unprepared individuals get tossed into a project only to fail. McCall’s potential solution includes having leadership that identify learning differences in subordinates and cater to their learning needs. Some subordinates many need more modeling than others.

Furthermore, we can see similar suggestions reflected in the popular business literature including Outliers and Good to Great. Good to Great by Jim Collins emphasizes that success full organizations work to get the right people on the bus so together they can move in the right direction. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell stress the importance of practice. The authors illustrate that he most successful individuals have over 10, 000 hours of practice in their area. Imagine what an individual with over 10,000 hours of hands on experience could do by the time they are in a TRUE leadership experience.

The take away:

1) Individuals should be selected from the start that illustrate the potential and motivation to learn to lead and lead others.

2) Organizations should hold current managers accountable for creating experiential leadership development for their high potential employees.

3) EXPERIENCE = Success

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