Developing leaders

Good leaders are not always easy to
find. Some are born with the traits
necessary to provide outstanding leadership, while others have the capacity to learn the proper skills.

Healthy companies will learn to develop
good leaders. Why? Because leadership
development has tremendous impact on
organizational performance, says Agustin
V. Arbulu, associate professor of the
DeVos Graduate School at Northwood
University in Midland. Effective leadership, he says, leads to a positive work
climate. And that leads to increased

Smart Business spoke with Arbulu
about what companies can do to ensure
they are developing good leaders.

Why is leadership development so important?

Leadership development is important
because of its impact on organizational
performance. After all, organizations are
always seeking to improve performance
in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Studies have shown that effective
leadership correlates to an organization’s climate. For example, it has been
said that 50 percent to 70 percent variance in organizational climate can be
explained by differences in leadership
style. In turn, organizational climate has
been found to correlate to performance.
So a positive climate can been attributed
to increased profitability, sales and

How does a company promote a culture that
constantly creates leaders?

It’s important to differentiate between
organizational climate and culture.
Culture refers to the values, beliefs, history and traditions that have been
embedded in the organization over time.
Climate, on the other hand, refers to the
pulse that exists in the organization,
which is exhibited in the day-to-day environment of the organization. Climate is
like taking the temperature of a room.

So what can be done to create a culture that constantly creates leaders? A few
things: actively encourage thinking
among your personnel; foster an environment that’s based on trust and openness; encourage and tolerate calculated
risk taking and don’t penalize for taking
a risk; create a setting for positive conflict and healthy tension; actively
encourage involvement and participation at all levels; actively encourage
development of analytical skills; actively
encourage decision-making through critical thinking.

Can anyone be made into a leader, or
should a company pre-select those more
suited? How does a company know who’s
more suited to leadership?

Leaders are both born and developed.
Some individuals are born with traits
that allow them to be more empathetic,
more confident, more resilient and more
socially aware. At the same time, individuals can consciously develop certain
competencies that move them toward
becoming more effective leaders — if
they’re prepared to commit the time and

Companies have often simply depended on gut instincts to decide who’s
more suited to be a leader. Instead, I
believe both the organization and the
individual should become more actively
involved by making use of assessment
tools (360-degree tools as opposed to
self-assessment tools) to assist individuals to know more about their strengths
and areas requiring further development. How are others viewing them?

Feedback from others is a powerful
tool to identify areas of strengths and
areas for improvement. Based on the
results from these assessment tools,
individuals can develop an action plan
to build up certain competencies that
lead to developing effective leadership

How much time and investment should a
company put into leadership development?

To be competitive, organizations
should make leadership development a
high priority. This means continual
assessment of their personnel, initiation
of development programs, and continual
evaluation on the effectiveness of their
leadership development programs.

What are the tangible results a company
can expect from a well-instituted leadership development program?

As indicated above, if effective leadership leads to fostering a positive climate,
then organizations can increase performance and even foster increased
innovation. So a properly developed
leadership development program that
trains individuals can make an impact on
the type of climate that’s created.

AGUSTIN V. ARBULU is associate professor in the DeVos
Graduate School at Northwood University in Midland. Reach him
at (248) 594-6262.