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Leadership Development


Globalization has led to high streams of disagreements and competition between businesses. With rapid changes in the business environment, like dramatic technological changes, high consumer expectations, and substantial change with Baby Boomers turning 65 every day between the present day and 2030, there has been a strong drive towards needs for leadership development (LD) (Cohn, 2010). The structured development of right-minded leaders is crucial to long-term business success. However, firms still leave unnoticed or chaotically engage in LD programs.

This article goes into offering an overview of LD, its importance, and how to build in these traits in each employee in the organization to enhance the productivity and efficiency of business human capital and make them flexible to adjust to unpredictable changes. Following these different theories of leadership is explained, Trait, Behavioral, Contingency, Transformational leadership theories and beyond. Lastly impact of leadership development initiated in SMEs i.e. Rostrum is analyzed.

Leadership Development

Leadership is the key concerning aspect for firms nowadays. Leadership development phenomena refer to the development of the business's ability to execute the leadership function required to achieve the shared organization mission (Van Velsor, 2004). LD theory mainly focuses on human capital, and greater capabilities that allow individuals to imagine and function in new ways (DV, 2000). In a dynamic and intensely competitive global business environment, firms need to research new ways of gaining and sustaining competitive advantage. This requires them to consider 'employees as an asset not a cost' of the business. This involves building on their human capital, developing leadership skills, knowledge, and capabilities for each employee to carry out both formal and informal leadership roles (Oskar Tornblom , 2020).

Leadership and teamwork are the weft and warp of the zestful fabric of the businesses. Globalization has led to the growing requirement for leaders from the multi-dimensional background. However, it could be more advantageous if leadership culture is developed within the organization, investing in building leadership skills among each individual. This will reduce the need for managers/leaders and so workers could more efficiently carry out their work without the supervision or continuous guidance from supervisors (Soderhjelm, 2018).

Methods of Leadership development

Leadership development results not only through traditional means of training programs, but it involves series of tasks built to develop workers by helping them to learn through their work and managers (Dalakoura, 2010). Coaching, mentoring, and learn from action techniques could be used for LD in growing businesses. Coaching refers to a type of guidance developed to enhance the expression of each employee or team's abilities, resources, and soft skills. It can be offered in multiple professional situations but is mostly provided in high-stake circumstances. Coaches are responsible to make and implement action-oriented plans to allow coaches/employees to identify themselves their development objectives and problems they face while acting on the given situation (Subramony, 2018).

Secondly, mentoring acts as a support relationship enhancing the intergenerational transfer of knowledge. Mentoring can be in multiple forms such as assistance, direction, feedback, and in different formats, formal and informal. Compared to coaching mentoring involves more time and is a long-term driven leadership development approach. The learning relationships associated with mentoring and coaching thus represents key elements of leadership development programs (Jennifer Grenier, 2019). Further action learning refers to the method of reflection and learning focused on resolving practical issues and attains superior results; it is rooted in the idea that people learn and are built better by experimentation and through experience than by the teaching of formalized, decontextualized contents. It is carried out within small groups and aims to empower employees to solve their work problems rather than focusing them to gain mandatory learning content (Chivers, 2011).

Compared to the orthodox view of LD investment at only higher levels of hierarchy is not sufficient. With continuously evolving technologies, economies, and businesses becoming more complex leadership has become a vital resource at every level of organization. Further collective leadership approach needs to be adopted by companies, where instead of focusing on identifying for and developing of leaders, emphasize is on the creating conditions in which leadership potential can occur and enhance. These practices lead to the creation of millennial leaders (Goldberg, 2017).


The advancement of LD theory can be grouped as a trait, behavioral, and contingency eras. The history of LD is framed through the leadership of a great man. 'Great man' or 'Trait approach' states that personality traits of an individual sometimes naturally make them move into leadership roles (Dorfman, 1996). Following behavioral theory research aim diverted from qualities of leaders to functions they perform. Research by Ohio State University-1945 analyzed two classifications, people-consideration, and task-initiating structure-oriented leadership. In the 1950s, Michigan Leadership research indicated that leadership behavior can be categorized as ‘worker-centered’ or ‘job-oriented’ (Willman, 2018).

Contingency theory is a leader-match approach that assumes that people as being leaders' efficiency is based on context, or their style in the context (Irfanullah Khan, 2016). More recently leadership is portrayed as a thing that can be carried out regardless of individual place in the hierarchy. This states that anyone can be a leader. (Bass, 1985) Distinguish between two types of leaders Transactional-who motivates workers by exchange process-rewarding and correcting, and Transformational-who motivates workers through triggering their higher-level needs.

Case example

LD programs are implemented to create an empowering climate within the organization, where anyone can become a leader, even though if they do not have formal management hierarchical position. Individuals when offered learning and growth opportunities could develop effective communication, analytical mindset and could build the capability to dare and confront others. This could enhance succession planning, and ensure high performance and growth of the organization (Michael J. Kirchner, 2014).

Taking the case of Rostrum is a private limited B2B company, which was established in October 2003, London. It is a small company employing 41 employees. They offer PR, and marketing services, they are specialized and works with financial services firms, corporate and consumer brands, and also with professional services companies. They allow their customers-companies to communicate easily with their customers, workers, investors, and regulators (Apollo).

Workers' performance is the bu

ilding block of businesses. Rostrum focuses on creating strong leadership qualities among its employees and encourages team development. They create a positive culture within their organization offering a fun, relax work environment. Rostrum offers personal leadership development plans and training to its employees. They usually spend approximately $1000 on each team member annually and motivate each individual at each level of hierarchy to share opinions related to work situations. They continuously reward talent and give autonomy to workers. These LD programs allow individuals to become efficient leaders leading to high job satisfaction i.e. up to 90% in Rostrum, leading to higher productivity and improving overall company's performance, due to which they are ranked among the top 100 PR companies (Rostrum).


LD involves both training and education; all of the practices need to be evolved adapting to current trends such as digitalization. With growing, international competition businesses need to identify new ways of attaining comparative advantage. Relying on only managers' skills, capabilities is not enough businesses need to implement LD programs to strengthen and develop leadership skills among each individual in the company to better carry out their operations as employees are closer to action than managers/owners. There are wide varieties of LD methods/programs with conflicting theories of leadership, of which combination of them could be used to enhance individual-employee and company performance and get an edge in the market.


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