The Importance of Leadership Development

Dr. Claude Toland, Director of Education, Universal Technical Institute

Dr. Claude Toland, Director of Education, Universal Technical Institute

The question has been asked through generations, are leaders born or developed. There are probably many views on this question where some believe leaders are born with certain characteristics and traits and others believe leaders are developed over time with proper leadership development and experience. We know this to be true, leadership requires certain skills, and those skills must continually be honed. This article is not written to answer the question of leaders being born or developed; it is written to emphasize the importance of ongoing leadership development in educational intuitions and business organizations.

Leadership development in education has probably never been more urgent than it is today and is certainly required to continue to develop leaders of the future. With the changing environment in education, effective leadership is required to ensure the institutions can change with the times. Leaders in educational institutions face many challenges today with ensuring budgets are followed, educational programs are accredited, faculty members maintain proper credentials and that the institution remains flexible and agile in changing times. SourcePoint stated, “Having a strong leadership team can ultimately determine the success of your organization. Yet when developing effective leaders, many businesses tend to fall short. Far too often, people are placed in leadership roles without any proper leadership development.”

" Leaders in educational institutions face many challenges today with ensuring budgets are followed, educational programs are accredited, faculty members maintain proper credentials and that the institution remains flexible and agile in changing times "

There is another question to be answered about why leadership development is important. What will leaders face in the next 15 years? They will continue to face some of the issues in today’s workforce. First, leaders will have to lead work forces that are made up of baby boomers, Generation X, and millennium employees. These employees will see things differently. Secondly, leaders will need skills to ensure they are able to transform a group of mixed generation employees into a productive work team. Similarly, the work force will continue to change in how it is made up of women, men, and people from all cultures. Leaders must have the ability to bring all the employees together as one team. In addition to the generational challenges, technology is changing at a fast pace and leaders must learn to manage this change. And ethics will be a big issue facing leadership in the next 15 years. With all that has been brought to light by the current unethical practices of some leaders, leaders may well be more under the microscope. Ethics in leadership can prevent organizational scandals, ethical dilemmas, and ethical issues

According to the BMA group, organizations that continue to develop their leaders perform at higher levels than those without leadership development opportunities. Organizations, even educational institutions should realize that leadership development is money well spent. On the other hand, there are those that believe that leadership development does not accomplish the goals of true leadership development.

Let’s be reminded that we are speaking of leadership development not leadership training. Training has a focus of doing things for today whereas development takes a forward-thinking approach (BMA Group). Development is a continuous regime of mentoring, coaching, job rotations, and challenging assignments that require a critical thinking and creative problem-solving approach.

We see that with the diverse work groups we have today in all organizations, including educational institutions, there can be great rewards reaped by providing leadership development for today’s leaders as well as those chosen to lead us in the future. If we want our leaders to have the skills they need, let’s continue to provide adequate development programs that teach the vital skills required to lead the multigenerational and multicultural teams. Let’s provide our leaders with the skills needed to be successful over the next 15 to 20 years.

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