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Developmental Leadership Activity
Developmental leadership refers to speciic activities that are necessary to develop high-performance work systems in an organization. A high-performance work system is one that, by deinition, is constantly doing things better.
Developmental leadership, to me, is best understood in terms of two sets of tasks. The irst set has to do with individuals developing their leading ability as individuals – learning how to lead themselves. This entails learning and the continuous development of individual competence. The goal here is to achieve an ideal state of competence called role model leadership.
The second set of tasks, which depend on understanding and acting on the irst, involves leading an organization towards its ideal state. The goal here is to achieve a high-performance work system, and it is achieved through collective and collaborative work of the organization's members. The role model leader makes this possible.
The purpose of developmental leadership activity is to achieve ongoing growth in the organization, and that happens when everyone devotes themselves to learning to do things better all the time.
Consider the role of a mechanical design engineer who is responsible for designing a new reactor to make chemical X within a large, multi-product manufacturing operation. There are two ways for him to execute this role. The irst is the conventional way: project management. Then there is the developmental way: the engineer knows that his role is to improve the way things are done, not simply to do things the same way forever or to make incremental changes in procedure. So he sets out to learn what the function of the reactor is from a variety of perspectives, such as the chemistry of the reaction and the business objective in building a reactor. Put another way, he sets out to understand the requirements of the reactor from the perspective of those who will be using it: the chemical engineers and technicians, the maintenance people who will be maintaining it, and the customers who will be using the reactor's products. Through developmental leadership, the mechanical design engineer is trying to understand something about the needs of those who will be using his design. The conventional approach to designing a reactor mainly involves managing and controlling procedures and standards. All of this managing and controlling is part of the developmental approach as well. What distinguishes developmental leader-engineers in this example is that with each project, they are always seeking better reactor designs as well as better ways to be more productive and to produce higher-quality decisions, with the goal of better satisfying the users' needs. They are carrying out the project not only eficiently but
also more effectively, by inding ways to enhance their contribution to all stakeholders.
Developmental Leadership Model
The mental model I will be using to discuss developmental leadership (see Figure 2.3) comprises three interdependent frameworks.
This developmental model goes a step beyond the generic framework described earlier. That earlier one referred to the three fundamental leadership activities: changing things to make them better and improving other people's lives; thinking about future states; and taking action. This developmental leadership model is derived from those three activities. What unites the two component frameworks, as you will see, is the action of continuous learning. Self-leading and organizational leading are developmental processes. Both are continuous and are dedicated to learning to be better individual leaders and better organizations.
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