Future trends in leadership development - Centre for Creative Leadership

Over the last month I've had this paper sent to me by a couple of colleagues....its written by a Kiwi called Nick Petrie working for the Center of Creative Leadership in the USA and is well worth a read....

"The origin of this report stems largely from my own doubts about the methods my colleagues and I had used in the past to develop leaders in organizations."

Nick undertook a one year sabbatical at Harvard University with the goal of answering the following question; "What will the future of leadership development look like?".  The report synthesises the findings of extensive literature reviews, linked with interviews with a range of tertiary sectors (education, business, law, government, psychology) and numerous private consultants focussing on their approaches to developing leaders.  


The report is broken into 2 sections; section 1 focusses on "the current environment and the challenge of developing leaders in an increasingly complex and uncertain world."  Section 2 summarises four leadership development trends and expands on the emerging practices that may form the basis of future leadership development processes.
  1. More focus on vertical development
  2. Transfer of greater development ownership to the individual
  3. Greater focus on collective rather than individual leadership
  4. Much greater focus on innovation in leadership development methods. 
I connect strongly with many of the themes in this paper...

... a focus on leadership as an action or process rather than leadership being confined to 'leaders' in set positions. Within this definition, leadership is shared across a network of people  or staff members - harnessing the collective intelligence in the organisation and network.   This approach to innovation in complex environments leads to not only high levels of engagement across an organisation, but also allows the organisation to access a wider range of ideas and unique approaches.   

... innovation in leadership processes that combine feedback loops from both the participants and the external environment which feed into ongoing negotiation and adaptation of learning design.  This results in both a high degree and ownership of the leadership development process (as in point 2 above) but also ensures that the changes in leadership beliefs and actions are fully contextualised and therefore more relevant and effective.

... the resulting engagement of leaders in their own development allows development to more sustainable, a ongoing professional inquiry process rather than perhaps just a series of training events.

I am exploring these themes through my own PhD research which has focussed on the design and facilitation of a leadership professional learning community with CEO's and managers of non-profit organisations.  Some of the initial findings re key design components that were developed and implemented throughout the project included;
  • negotiating a flexible and responsive structure;
  • authentic sharing of positive personal stories;
  • cycles of exploration and learning;
  • individual and collective reflection; 
  • significant time frame and commitment
  • engaging high quality external inputs
  • intentional facilitation
These findings are still emerging as I complete the thesis. However I have written up intial findings in a number of journal articles. These are available in the "Presentations and publishing" section of this website, I have included two below; 

Leaders building professional learning communities: Appreciative inquiry in action

Leadership for Emergence: Exploring organisations through a living system lens

Over the next month I will continue to expand on these thoughts on developing leaders, especially with regards to the links to complexity thinking.  


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