5 Tips to Evaluating Leadership Development

5 Tips for Leadership Development Evaluation

In my quest to learn, grow and share leadership traits, techniques and tips, I recently attended a conference, my first in many years. Several speakers took to the stage, sharing their secrets of success. Each one had a turn on the stage whipping the crowd into frenzied excitement with dance moves, power chants and positive affirmations. I walked away disappointed that leadership development had been reduced to rah-rah tricks and shallow development tips. Understanding the need for enthusiasm at conferences and the hype needed to promote sales, my concern is that this circus has become the expectation for leadership development.

There is a place for showmanship at such large events. As impressed as I was by the list of speakers, some of them legendary in their life time, we need to be careful about who we trust with our personal development. Hype and ceremony does not install leadership.  Each one of us has a personal responsibility to take control of how we grow and develop. Each one of us has a responsibility to ensure the value and purpose of the information that we hold onto as absolute truth.

The conference got me thinking: What criteria did I use to evaluate principles I learned from elsewhere? Thinking the information is great shouldn’t be proof that the principles are perfect! We have seen attitudes change and shift as leadership evolves and develops. When an autocratic leadership style was fashionable, everyone believed the information and results were great. Times have changed, and so has Leadership. Now autocratic dominance has given way to emphasis on teams.
Here are five tips to evaluate leadership development produced from many interviews and discussions with leaders and leadership development gurus. I asked the question: How does one evaluate personal/leadership development to determine its worth and sustainability? They had much to share, which I will pass on as we go, but five opinions stood out as a common thread which I have listed below, in no particular order:

  1. Values Based: We are values-driven creatures. Values are what motivates us, guides us, and empowers us. Values cause us to where we live where we do, who we relate to, and what we wear. Values are linked to our emotions and moods. Without being subtle, there is nothing else that matters as much as values in personal knowledge and growth. The concept of values is still new in its own evolution process, but is gaining momentum as more and more people learn of its worth and power.

    Be cautious around information and people that go against or try to suppress values in any way. Values rule our internal system, and will come to the foreground by evolution (learning and development) or by revolution (Internal Strife marked with emotional instability). We seek leadership development that is sustainable through connection to values. Any lessons or development that teaches values, gives understanding or helps people connect to values will have sustainable worth in the long term.

  2. Authenticity: Only connecting to and aligning with ones true self is sustainable and of worth. Development that encourages people to pretend or to fake it in any way should be avoided. As I grow and develop I seek information and guidance that will help me engage with my true self. Identifying strengths and weaknesses in an honest and responsible manner allows us to improve weaknesses and grow our strengths, paving the way to greatness. Seek out those things that encourage embracing of self, not in a narcissistic manner,  but in a way to step out from living in other peoples shadows, assuming personal ownership and responsibility of our own lives, of our own outcomes and of our own vision.

  3. Purposeful:  Co-Dependent leaders will seek to gain support and dependency on their own vision and mission, often leaving a trail of hurt and disillusioned followers in their wake. Dependence and Co-dependence is central to continued money making plans within the personal and leadership development arena. People are becoming increasingly suspicious of training that promises much, but delivers little, requiring more money for the full picture to growth. Authentic Personal/Leadership Development will strive to point people to their own purpose in a simple and honest manner. People want to be useful; they want to find a reason for their existence. This should not be motivation to milk them of all their cash. As tempting as recruiting them for your own purpose may be, rather point them in the direction of their own vision. Finding their purpose will connect them to a sustainable source of personal value and keep them coming back for more truths of real worth.

  4. Service to Others: Our favourite Superheroes are identified by the selfless sacrifices they make for their fellow citizens or for the planet. The villains often have a vision, gather a team, and motivate them to achieve greatness – just like the good guys! However, this greatness is driven by selfish intention. We recognise the villains by their greed and selfishness. The sustainability of leadership is often driven by their selflessness or limited by their selfishness.  This sounds like a contradiction to the previous points.

    The first three points are based on self knowledge, which is vital to providing sustainable service to others. To q The greatest leadership is born from servanthood that is based in a good understanding of self. Check the intent of Personal/Leadership Development and evaluate the contents aim; does it drive you to be selfish or generous.
    uote the Bible; John 13 tells us that Jesus knowing who He was, where He had come from, and where He was going (all based in self-knowledge as are our first three points), got up from the last supper and washed the disciples feet Served those around Him).

  5. Quality of Legacy: There was disagreement on the requirements needed for great leadership in a particular group session while doing research for this article. Attendees debated the proportionate need of Position, Knowledge and People Skills in the role of a Leader. One gentleman, a lecturer and leadership development instructor, pointed out that legacy had a role to play. In using the examples of Hitler and Ghandi, he compared their leadership skills and abilities. Both men felt they had a cause. Both men had a vision. Both had ability to rally great numbers in support of their cause. One caused the destruction of a nation ad left a legacy of pain and insult, where the other liberated a nation from suppression. Yet, a clear line divides the two men when looking at the quality of the legacy that each left behind, which you can evaluate for yourself.

    The fact that any legacy is promoted in Personal/Leadership development will be proof it strives to be sustainable, but evaluating the quality of the legacy talks directly to the worth of the process. I don’t think there is a clear hard and fast rule for determining which is more valuable between Hitler and Ghandi. Each man’s supporters will argue valuable points to promote their own champion, and in the same manner, you as someone desiring to leave a mark in history, will have to decide on the type and quality of the legacy you create.

These are not the only points to evaluate Leadership Development, but they are the most common points highlighted in the discussions with leaders, leader development programs and people interested in leadership. I hope and trust that these five tips offer you some sort of tool for sifting the rah-rah hype in Leadership Development programs from the material that will bring you beneficial growth and inspiration.

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