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Differentiating Leader and Leadership Development A Collective Framework for Leadership Development

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The concepts of leader and leadership development are often used interchangeably with no clear distinction between them in the literature. Most studies when they refer to leader development and the reasons and means by which organizations can develop their executives' leadership skills are mistaken when it comes to leadership development. Leadership development is not merely the development of leadership skills of individual leaders, although leadership development is still an important aspect of the organization. The purpose of the report includes clarifying the concepts and practices between leader and leadership development to differentiate between them, thereby capturing the true meaning of leadership development. Also, study how organizations can or should develop leadership at all levels and propose a collective framework for leadership development.

The mistake in distinguishing the development of a leader development from leadership development is caused by the majority of empirical studies on leadership that have been done in the past which have viewed leadership largely as an individual phenomenon, focusing on the behaviors and skills of the leader. They supposed that leadership occurs primarily as a result of the training of individual leaders and the development of their skills and competencies. However, leadership is not just an individual phenomenon; it is a complex phenomenon that includes the interactive relationships between leaders and social and organizational environments. Nowadays, from the new leadership point of view, leaders have a responsibility to build organizations in which people continually expand their capacity to learn, understand the complexity, and set visions for the organization. The leader development to the human capital of the organization and leadership development to the social capital of the organization are closely related.

Leadership development includes the development of a broader and collective framework, and leadership is developed in practice. It is a social process, involving everyone in the organization, and the development of such interpersonal relationships will add value to the organization. Members of the organization are accountable to each other, supported by mutual trust and respect. In summary, the importance of leadership development and leader development in a systematic effort to increase leadership effectiveness in an organization is the same. Leader and leadership development need to be integrated to align with the organization's broader goals and strategies. As a result, the development of leadership at all levels will have the greatest impact possible on the operation of the organization.

Organizations that want to survive and succeed in today's highly competitive and volatile business environment need to develop leadership at all levels. Therefore, a rich set of literature sees leadership development as an increasingly important and strategic imperative for organizations. The forces that stimulate leadership development needs come from both external and internal environments. Over the past decade, critical forces of the external corporate environment such as rapid technological advancement, excessive uncertainty, intense world competition, and severe hostility, and organizations experience great chaos not only require a speed of decision-making but also fundamentally changes to the organizational landscape that the leaders are expected to operate. Also, the former backward hierarchies should be discarded.

The advent of computer technology has created fierce competition, instantaneous distribution, and availability of knowledge by forcing organizations to flat the hierarchies as well as decentralize decision-making to gain flexibility and be able to respond quickly. The use of cross-functional project and process teams has increased and leaders, along with their immediate subordinates, have multiple groups reporting to them. The role of the leader is now a facilitator, coach, and consultant.

Significant changes are also taking place in the human values, backgrounds, and needs of employees. These changes are due to the increasing emphasis on organizational behavior in management schools and the development of employee rights acts, which has left subordinates less tolerant of any interpersonal weakness of their superiors. And today, they expect their leaders to be more interpersonal capable to succeed in truly influencing as organizational leaders.

Commonly used practices for leader and leadership development include 360-degree feedback, coaching, and mentoring from executives, line managers of a company, or external consultants, networking, action learning, specific job assignments, corporate case studies, computer simulations, experiential learning, and classroom-style leadership training with internal or external trainers. Leadership development programs are often designed and implemented by in-company HR professionals, outside consultants, and academic co-coordinators, and with little involvement of the CEO or top management of a company.

In fact, programs aimed at the development of leadership at all levels are more difficult to design and implement than programs aimed at enhancing the skills and competencies of individual leaders. The leadership development practices should provide employees with an opportunity to learn from their work. Also, it should occur in the context of ongoing work initiatives and embedded in strategic business imperatives. Successfully integrating the leadership development program into everyday organizational practices will be the foundation for the organization to effective leadership development at all levels. Whether or not leadership development programs are successful depends much on the efforts, support, commitment, and active involvement of the company's top managers, top management team, and the CEO. And then, if an organization wants to be sustainable, it is important that the leaders in that organization must develop others to become leaders.

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The reasons why leaders should develop other leaders are very diverse. First, leaders pass on to their followers the experience and knowledge that brings personal satisfaction to the leaders by helping others grow. At the same time, the skills, knowledge, and insights of the leader are also developed through sharing of that experience. Next, by improving the performance of others, leaders are increasing their ability to handle the tasks they currently do, which may allow them to pursue higher leadership responsibilities. In addition, line managers can also play an important role in changing organizational culture by imparting appropriate messages and behaviors to their followers. Therefore, successful leadership development will ideally complement the development of leadership culture and continuous learning within the organization.

It is imperative that in today's rapidly changing environment, the self-development capacity of leaders at all levels needs to be concerned. Self-development is a necessary success factor because it fosters relentless learning. However, self-development is not just a matter of individual leaders themselves but should be encouraged by their senior managers and the company's HR department, i.e. through 360-degree feedback, coaching and mentoring, and through the HRM systems. Besides, a company's HRM systems (i.e. recruiting, selecting, training, and developing) should also enhance the development of skilled, motivated, and empowered employees that engage in functional leadership behavior for the firm. Organizations that develop leadership at all levels see leadership as an institutionalized competency, in which many key leadership tasks and responsibilities are institutionalized in the organization's culture, practice, and systems. Measuring leadership development

In addition, as the organization has developed leadership at all levels, the people within the organization will act more like owners and bosses than just employees. They would actively solve problems, act with urgency, and willingness to experiment. They would willingly accept accountability for meeting commitments and they would share a common leadership philosophy and language. In addition, they would continue to create, maintain, and adhere to systems and processes designed to measure and reward these distributed leadership behaviors. Several items can be used to determine if an organization develops leadership at all levels, namely, The organization has a steady focus on developing leaders at all levels; The organization has a culture that values leadership behavior at all levels; Leadership behavior is encouraged and rewarded at all levels; Leadership development is a priority of strategic importance, and Training for developing leadership skills is systematic, etc.

Leadership development today includes more than just developing individual leaders leading to a greater focus on the context in which leadership is developed. The need for leadership development is an urgent need in a modern organizational environment, where changes create uncertainty and unpredictability and problems are too many and too complex for one or more people to define and organize. Continued changes in the environment increase the need for communication, coordination, consensus, and rational decision-making. Organizations operating in such an environment need to develop mechanisms and systems that allow their employees to withstand the challenges of the constantly changing environment. In fact, top-down leadership for modern organizations is impractical and it threatens the long-term success of the organization, so leadership, and decision-making, and strategic thinking should be reduced at all levels.

Leadership development is formed based on expanding the collective capacity of people in the organization to effectively participate in leadership roles and processes also highlight its strategic importance for the organization. Practice shows that leadership development is not assigned a strategic role in most organizations nor is it considered an integral part of the competitive strategy formulation process. Although most organizations recognize the importance of leadership development, they fall behind in actually achieving it because they still confuse leadership development with training.

Leadership development in most organizations is a 'haphazard process'. For example, in the recruitment process of young managers, certain leadership qualities may be considered. After that, they will later cultivate leadership experience throughout their career path. They may attend a very limited number of leadership seminars and they still focus on previous models of leadership that did not really incorporate a broader system and coordinated system planning. Similarly, in developing strategic competencies, managers have only limited functional experience and lack a truly strategic perspective because the company program mainly uses simple participative decision-making exercises. As a result, a deeper assessment of strategic problems cannot be completed. Strategic training is given priority to senior managers, while junior managers need early exposure to experience in the strategic decision-making process.

In order to successfully implement their business strategy, organizations need to develop appropriate competencies in their people, for example, employees of strategic importance by directly implementing their strategy. The organization needs leaders at all levels to get the flexibility and speed needed to make decisions when the company's strategies compete.

In short, leadership development involves developing a more collective and systematic framework in which leadership is developed in practice. It is formed on the basis of expanding the collective capacity of people in the organization to participate effectively in leadership roles and processes. It is a complex phenomenon involving interactions between leaders and social and organizational environments. Leadership development requires CEOs and line managers to actively participate in the development of leaders at all levels. It is not only the result of traditional or classroom-style training programs but also the result of a series of well-coordinated activities to develop employees, by helping them learn from work and from their superiors. Leadership development needs to be integrated into daily activities and becomes part of the organization's culture.

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Differentiating Leader and Leadership Development A Collective Framework for Leadership Development. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“Differentiating Leader and Leadership Development A Collective Framework for Leadership Development.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Differentiating Leader and Leadership Development A Collective Framework for Leadership Development. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
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