Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Common Leadership Development Challenges

I recently ran across a study conducted by McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison that overviewed 16 developmental experiences that are thought to have the greatest impact on a leader’s development. Given our recent small ‘l’ leadership papers on leader development, I thought this would be interesting. Here is a summary of the developmental challenges in the authors’ Lessons of Experience (1988).


1. Early work experiences: early non-managerial jobs

2. First supervision: first time managing people

3. Starting from scratch: building something from nothing

4. Fix it/turnaround: fixing/stabilizing a failing operation

5. Project/task force: discrete projects and temporary assignments done alone or as a part of a team

6. Scope: increase in numbers of people, dollars, and functions to manage

7. Line to staff switch: moving from line operations to corporate staff roles

Other People:

8. Role models: other people with exceptional (good or bad) qualities

9. Values played out: “snapshots” of chain-of-command behavior that demonstrate individual or corporate values


10. Business failure or mistakes: ideas that failed or deals that fell apart

11. Demotions/missed promotions/lousy jobs: not getting a coveted job or getting exiled

12. Employee performance problem: confronting an employee with a serious performance problem

13. Breaking a rut: taking on a new career in response to discontent with the current job

14. Personal traumas: crises and traumas such as divorce, illness, and death

Other events:

15. Coursework: formal courses

16. Purely personal: experiences outside of work (McCall, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988)

Creative Giving- The Bill Gates of Switzerland

This story started from a person, Roberto Laureano da Rocha. He lives in impoverish neighborhood in Brazil. Most residents in his neighborhood make a living as waste pickers, and so does he. However, five years ago he has worked with the Avina foundation. Avina Foundation was launched fifteen years ago by Stephen Schmidheiny, a social philanthropist. Every year Schmidheiny puts 30 million dollars to help entrepreneurs in both Central and South Aerica in an effort to reduce the poor population. Also, what he cares about is corporate environmental responsibility. The approach The Avina Foundation utilizes is to encourage the poor to become entrepreneurs rather than to provide them welfare, including aiding latin America’s waste pickers in Brazil to raise their earning and training the poor to run business in rural areas.
Leaders influence people and decide when, where and how to exercise influence in an effort to bring about the attainment of social goals (House&Howell, 1992; Mumford, 1986; Winter, 1991). In this case, Schmidheiny is a leader in dealing with a social problem. He saw that people in Latin America suffered from poverty and environmental pollution was exacerbated. His visions are poverty alleviation and environmental conservation. He mobilized the poor to move toward their collective goal, namely decreasing the ratio of poor people (Burns, 1978) and further reached another vision-environmental protection.
In order to approach his desire, the way he used was to teach people and train how to enhance their income through being an entrepreneur, instead of handing the poor money directly. He realized that without teaching, giving away is too passive. People still do not know how to earn more money to improve their life, so what he emphasized is to the growth of his followers-the poor people. This is a typical example of servant leadership (Smith, Montagno, and Kuzmenko, 2004). Schmidheiny’s motivation came from development of the poor and his first priority is to serve society first and lead second.
In addition to helping people away from poverty, another important concept he brought to society is to raise the awareness of environment in Latin America. As a philanthropist, Schmidheiny definitely proposed the creative and effective policies to improve financial condition of the poor and dedicate to the reduction of pollution, so he is an exemplar of leaders in leading social changes.