Wednesday Buzz: Leadership Development Through Experiments

Learn how outside-the-box thinking makes successful leaders. Plus: Commuting doesn't have to be a nightmare.

Strong leaders are crucial to a strong operation. But while organizations spend heavily every year to ensure that their managers are top-notch, Harvard Business Review contributors Ron Ashkenas and Robert Hausmann warn that associations may not be getting the best return on their investment.

Companies may invest big bucks in leadership training, but many have fallen into the practice of teaching potential managers with a “leadership development ‘equation,'” by which they cultivate their skills and then expect these execs to more efficiently achieve goals.

Taking a different tack, Ashkenas and Hausmann are experimenting with a strategy that requires executives to do critical thinking by presenting them with real-world problems and having them develop the solutions.

“[L]eadership development begins with a real business challenge that leaders need to solve, instead of with a hypothetical case study or simulation,” the authors write. “In order to succeed, they have to act, reach outside of their comfort zone, and adapt their approach.”

The program, currently in its test phase, introduces potential managers to those involved in a specific organizational challenge. After gathering details, candidates are then asked to design and implement a low-stakes experiment to solve the problem.

“The small-scale project would test a possible solution in a low-risk way, in 100 days or less, and without the pressure of having to be right,” the duo explain. “In other words, the main purpose was to quickly learn about what does or doesn’t work.”

No matter how organizations use this method, they agree allowing participants more flexibility is crucial to growth.

“What all of these programs have in common is the belief that by focusing on constant experimentation, leadership development can be a driver for strengthening organizational capability and business success.”

Infographic of the Day

Many consider commuting a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be. Lifehacker‘s Alan Henry shares an Auto Insurance Center infographic that discusses how to take the frustration out of your daily trip to and from work.

Other Good Reads

Don’t let your online presence go to waste. In the second part of her marketing strategy series on the Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, Abby Jarvis of Qgiv shares tips on how to keep donors engaged.

Leadership isn’t just what you do. It’s what you say, as well. Colleen Dilenschneider reveals a tired phrase that leaders should never utter.

Netflix is adjusting prices for customers. Maybe it’s time you do the same. Creative Boom‘s Katy Cowan offers advice on how to evaluate your work.


Eli Zimmerman

By Eli Zimmerman

Eli is studying Journalism at the University of Maryland. When not studying, he likes to relax with a nice book or a couple rounds at the local boxing gym. MORE

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