Smart people plus measurable outcomes do not always equal progressive leadership.  Case in point?  Wall Street CEO’s who manipulated financial programs, made hundreds of millions for their company and  themselves. 


Progressive leadership on the other hand is what we need today, to accelerate the path to prosperity and build the enduring organizations that create jobs and a growing base of talented leaders.  While it’s hard not to steam about the double standards that are evident on Wall Street, our focus is more about what happens in the capital region.


Our firm often works with progressive organizations who are more interested in a sustainable approach to leadership development, as opposed to the majority, who offer nothing, or are satisfied with a traditional leadership development path, even though they are dissatisfied with the results.  If you are interested in learning more about these options, refer to the chart below.


Traditional Development

Progressive Development

·      Budget development as an afterthought, and only if any money is left over

·      Training & development is delegated to HR & training staff

·      Everything offered looks & feels like training courses

·      Managers all receive the same training, or focused on those struggling the most

·      Focus on improving current management shortcomings

·      Training is disconnected to other systems and strategies within the organization

·      Leadership development is funded as a strategic investment

·      Training is managed by staff, but led & committed to by the executive team

·      Training is used, but along with other leadership development solutions

·      Leadership development is targeted to those who are willing & able

·      Support current performance, but focus on preparing future leadership

·      Leadership development is aligned to organizational strategy & processes


Sound like something that takes a lot of time, relevant for only large organizations or something you’ll look into later?  Think again!


While you might need some early direction, the move to a progressive approach is fairly straight forward.  As I have illustrated before, large organizations who have not taken the progressive path have legacy working against them – many managers in place who have been managed and rewarded for years, and who most likely are not fond of change.  Think Titanic vs. speed boat.


The most compelling business case for you has nothing to do with your legacy, current pool of managers, or existing company culture.  It’s all about the eminent future we all face.  The workforce data says that we have a lot of people at the top of our organization, including executives who will be leaving in the not too distant future.  Not much we can do about our current situation, but working to improve our future potential and legacy is really what’s ahead of us.


Key Characteristics


So what characteristics separate progressive organizations from the traditional we often see?


  • Commitment – Executives and owners are directly involved in the identification & development of leadership talent for their company’s growth.
  • Strategic – Leadership development is looked at through a lens of organizational capability & need, not the individual brochure that comes across our desk.
  • Data Driven – Company leadership teams make decisions on what is needed for who based on current data from assessments, profiles and reviews.
  • Balanced – While the emerging needs of current leaders will needs to be addressed, others are shifting to include a premium on developing leaders for future roles.
  • Integrated – Far too many organizations focus on one tool or process at a time, rather than the leverage that comes from integrating assessment, development & tools.
  • Outcomes – Performance management systems are used to build success at each level:  individual, business unit & organization.  Metrics emphasize outcomes vs. process


The development of leaders for growth and sustainability is a journey, but one that takes leadership, commitment and long-range thinking.  When will you choose to begin?