I’m fairly lucky that I get to travel around the world to speak with audiences about organizational health: the human abilities that enable your organization to align, execute, and renew itself faster than the competition – to create a culture of continual innovation for every aspect of the current and future enterprise.
At the moment, I spend my time between UK, Africa and Middle East, talking about organizational health with a focus on leadership and, as I like simplicity and I love psychology, I gravitate towards James Scouller’s ‘Three Levels Of Leadership’ (although I do also wrap this into Maxwell’s five levels of leadership too).
Leadership is an interesting concept for me: it does not depend upon age, gender, geography or qualifications – it starts with something that is within us and then circumstance, education and mentoring can nurture it.
If we think about a bell curve, at the one end we have the ‘born leaders‘ whilst at the other, we have the people in the wrong place at the wrong time – the accidental leaders. In between, we have people that may or not become leaders, dependent upon circumstance, education, and support.
Don’t dismiss old leadership theories but…
Some of the established theories would include:
- Traits theory gave rise to the theory that leaders are born and not made, this approach suggested that leaders defied classification – you couldn’t really say what a leader ‘was’. As the model is all about measurement, it probably suits identifying future leaders than leadership development;
- Behavioral styles theory by Blake and Mouton used a managerial grid model with concern for production as the x-axis and concern for people as the y-axis. The issue here is that this 1964 model is not as suited to 21st century organizations as other more flexible approaches;
- The majority of situational / contingency theories assume that leaders can simply flick a switch and adopt different behaviours without exploring the underlying belief systems of the individual;
- Functional theories (e.g. Five Leadership Practices or Action-Centered Leadership) also fails to take into account the psychology of the leader, assuming that the leader applies leadership behaviour as needed, regardless of their personality;
If we are to integrate psychology into the piece, we will be looking for a model that takes into account values, beliefs, personalities and behaviours – appreciating that the inner person serves to determine the outer leader.
It would be wrong to simply dismiss all previous leadership theories and far smarter to recognise the plus-points of each and wrap them around an executive coaching model. To achieve this, we need to baseline and monitor the emotional development of the leader, coupled with ways to dismantle inappropriate beliefs and behaviours.
The 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development is based on research and observation carried out from the 1960s until present.
Morgan McCall and his colleagues working at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) are usually credited with originating the ratio. Two of McCall’s colleagues, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger, published data from one CCL study in their 1996 book The Career Architect Development Planner.
McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger’s survey of high-performing managers revealed that lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:
70% from tough jobs
20% from people (mostly the boss)
10% from courses and reading
70:20:10 – the Google way
Eric Schmidt introduced 70-20-10 into Google in 2005 stating that, in order to cultivate innovation, employees should utilize their time in the same ratio
70% dedicated to core business tasks
20% dedicated to projects related to the core business
10% dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business
70:20:10 – the Jennings’ way
In 2002 Charles Jennings, a Chief Learning Officer developed 70:20:10 as a strategic model for practical implementation at Reuters:
70% of the time is learning and developing through experience
20% of the time is through informal learning and development
10% of the time is through formal learning
70:20:10 Leadership Development
Change is the constant – whilst it is imperative that leaders build their inner & outer leadership capabilities, do we have the time to do it? We all know that strong leadership makes for a strong organization – but the transition from one state to another merely adds to an already heavy workload.
The glib answer is that we need to find the time – yet even the thought of using Eric Schmidt’s 10% for projects unrelated to core business makes many CEOs shudder.
The reality is that a) time is the most precious commodity of today’s leader and b) a constant cycle of learning is unhelpful and does not have a good enough ROI if the information is ‘dry’ and does not stick.
Whilst a mentor supporting a leader in the workplace is a good start, there is a definite need for a ‘classroom’ (virtual or real-world) to give the leader clearly defined boundaries to focus on access new thinking – but, again, this can be hard to justify.
In my experience, strategic HR can always find the money for leadership training programs but has an internal battle to source the time: I have never struggled to secure a budget from a client but, sessions #4-7 with an aspiring / current leader are always the hardest in terms of getting them to give themselves a fighting chance.
In the current age, a mentor suited to a leader today, may not be suitable tomorrow – how to readily access a pool of mentors based on the situation in hand?
The new way does away with the 70-20-10 as the boundaries between each can not only be blurred but, in some cases, erased. Yes, there will be workplace-based learning and also mentoring and formal education – but the new leadership development models needs to be as flexible and agile as the people that we are developing.
21st century business is fluid and agile – ‘disrupt or be disrupted’, ‘innovate or die’… and so we can’t afford to wait for leaders to get up to speed and, similarly, any education and support that comes their way has to be equally agile, fluid and innovative.