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Developing Leaders at All Levels

  • ID: 42705
  • Report
  • April 2000
  • 94 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Can anyone become a leader?

While history chronicles the lives of well-known leaders such as Abraham
Lincoln, Alexander the Great, and Winston Churchill, most of us realize that
our lives will not be studied by school children in the years to come. But we all commit small acts of leadership that impact our work, family, and friends on a daily basis. In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing business environment, tapping into and developing the leadership skills of each member of your organization is key to success. Whether it’s an administrative assistant finding a more efficient way to handle correspondence or an executive inspiring thousands to reshape a business line, organizations need leaders everywhere.

Successful and diverse organizations such as Intel, GE, PepsiCo, and the U.S.
Special Operations Command are all committed to creating leaders throughout their organizations. By developing the abilities of their front-line people to make quick, creative decisions that align with their companies’ strategic values, these organizations have strengthened their market positions, tackled current problems, and prepared for future challenges. Is your organization capable of sustaining its success and building leaders to guide it into the future? Leadership development does take money and time. The American Society for Training and Development estimates that leading-edge organizations spend up to 6 percent of their payrolls on learning initiatives. Dr. Morgan McCall of the University of Southern California indicated that it may take 10–20 years for executives to develop the needed range of managerial and leadership skills. In today’s nanosecond business environment, however, decisions must be made every day, at every level. Can you afford not to have committed and competent leaders helping you run your business both today and in the future?

The purpose of this multicompany benchmarking study was to discover and
examine best practices in developing leaders at all levels. As is discussed in the methodology section of this summary, five organizations were chosen for their “best practices” in leadership development, and their processes and practices form the heart of this report. Benchmarking best practices can be a tricky subject. For one, the term best practice is often misleading—APQC does not claim that we have identified the five top organizations in the world that are currently using leadership techniques.

Instead, these organizations should be considered best practice because they have done the best with the tools they have to work with. Creating a leadership development program cannot be simply a “cut-and-paste” job. The organizations involved in this benchmarking project, both those sponsoring
the research and those participating as best-practice organizations, understand and emphasize that fact. Therefore, what may be considered best practice for one company may be a not-so-good idea for another. Organizations that will get the most out of this report do not look for the one silver bullet to cure all of their leadership development problems. Instead, the insights gleaned through the project should be used as a starting point to get “out of the box” and truly understand the change management process.
With more than 20 top-notch firms participating in this research project, there is certainly no dearth of ideas to consider. This is where benchmarking best practices will provide the greatest benefit to the user.


The Developing Leaders at All Levels consortium benchmarking study began on
June 24, 1999, with an organizing meeting in which the study team, the
subject matter expert, and the sponsor organizations agreed upon the following
study scope:

Section I: Identifying Leadership Competencies
Section II: Finding Leaders at All Levels
Section III: Leadership Development as a Process
Section IV: Measurement and Communication


Based on the study scope, APQC conducted its research on developing leaders
at all levels. The key findings derived from the study are organized into four sections consistent with the scope areas:

I. Identifying Leadership Competencies
II. Identifying the Leadership Pool
III. Leadership Development as a Process
IV. Measurement and Communication

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- Sponsor and Partner Organizations

A listing of the sponsor organizations in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) organizations that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancement in developing leaders at all levels.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Foreword

An introduction to the report topic and the study by subject matter expert Dr. George Hollenbeck.

- Program and Key Term Summary

A synopsis of the programs and key terms used by the partner organizations to develop their leaders.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the 13 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner organizations.

- Partner Organization Profiles

Background information on the partner organizations, as well as their innovative leadership development processes.
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