This is part 5 of the 3×5 Leader Development Handbook. I encourage you to start with the introduction here if you have not yet.
In our last installment of the 3×5 Leader Development Handbook, we introduced the Leader Development Matrix, below. It helps clarify the process of leader development into domains and methods.
Our developmental domains, which we focus on in this part of the Handbook, are the areas that we desire to actually develop our leaders in. They serve as the purpose and the goals of our developmental process. Domains answer the questions, “in what areas do I want to develop my leaders? What skills and abilities do I want them to grow in?”
Our leader development efforts become more effective and impactful the clearer we are about our developmental domains. Ask, “Why these domains? Are these the most relevant areas of development for my people and my organization right now given our mission and environment? What are my developmental goals and end state? Where are my people lacking most in organizational performance and effectiveness?”
Thinking through these types of questions can help us ensure we are selecting the right domains of development.
You are not restricted in the number of domains that you develop your leaders. I chose three domains in the model above as a mere example. However, ensure that you are not diluting your development with too many domains. The more domains, the less important each one becomes; everything can’t be a priority. Be clear and highly selective in your domains. What is the most important for my organization right now? Choosing three to four domains may be appropriate and realistic.
Clarifying your Developmental Domains
In the Matrix model above, I show three domains: leadership, officership, and technical job skill. Those may seem vague and overly broad to be “clear domains of development” – they are. It is important to be as clear as possible what each domain is and what that developmental goal / end state is. I recommend leader developers define each domain and provide specific goals for each one. These can be considered “lines of effort” within each domain.
Example #1. My first domain offered above is leadership. I define this domain as “developing peoples’ ability to inspire and influence others to accomplish organizational goals, regardless of assumed role or assigned responsibility.” Still, that is very broad. My top three leadership domain lines of effort are: influence (not authority-based behavior), improved leader self-awareness, and leader presence.
Example #2. For my officership domain, above, I list that as important for my current duty. As a Tactical Officer of a Cadet company at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, my primary role is to be the key leader developer and primary integrator of the four areas of Cadet development (academics, physical, military, and character) for my approximately 120 Cadets. My job is to ensure they are ready to be commissioned officers and leaders of character in our U.S. Army when they graduate. Specifically, within officership, my current lines of effort are: character and ethics, having a systems-mindset to organizational processes, and owning an inherent commitment to standards and discipline.
So, my leadership and officership domains within the Matrix model can look like this, now with some added detail:
These domains offered above are unique to my own current work and profession; they may not directly apply to you. I offer them as examples to spur your thinking of where you need to develop your leaders in your own work and what you define as your most important domains of leader development. Yours may include improving peoples’ management skills, problem solving, customer service, and so on. Further, my personal third domain would be creating “expert engineer enablers,” which is a small, technically-based niche domain within the Army and would include very specific lines of effort focused on being a staff engineer, breach commander, and ability to plan engineer effort in a defense.
So, take some time to think on the critical areas of development for your people and organization and then create your key developmental domains and supporting lines of effort.
Finally, our domains and lines of effort are not fixed. They should be routinely assessed for progress as well as necessary revision based on new organizational needs.
Now, with our developmental domains established, it is time to explore how we plan to develop our leaders within these domains. These are our methods within the Leader Development Matrix.
Methods Precursor: Leader vs. Leadership Development
Lastly, before we can transition to exploring our developmental methods, it is important to clarify leader vs. leadership development; there is a distinct difference.
The emphasis of leader development is typically on an individual leader. It aims to grow their knowledge, skills, and abilities with formal leadership roles or achieving influence through informal ones. Leader development allows individuals to think and act in new ways; it invests in individual capital. Leader development, focused on the individual, can include efforts like self-awareness, motivation, presence, adaptability, personal management tools, etc.
Leadership development, on the other hand, focuses on social capital. It grows networked relationships among people within the organization, enhances cooperation, and builds systems within the organization to improve how people effectively and efficiently work with one another. This can include social skills, empathy, servant leadership, trust and respect, etc. It also includes organizational systems of how people work together. Creating a defined, specific unit planning process on how different staff entities work together to create a mission plan can be an example of leadership development – it grows everyone’s knowledge and ability to work together to accomplish a critical unit task.
It’s important to understand this distinction because organizations need both leader and leadership development. We cannot improve our organization by merely focusing on developing individual leaders. Conversely, improving social capital and collective leadership requires improved individual leaders. Our holistic leader development processes within our organizations require both individual leader and collective leadership development to be complete. We must ensure we attend to both as we create our developmental methods in our Leader Development Matrix.
Our following four installments in the Leader Development Handbook cover common developmental methods, as shown in the Matrix above. We will use a new installment to cover each of the efforts shown in the model and what we’ve learned on these topics so far in our leader growth journey: on-the-job training and coaching, counseling and feedback, developmental programs, and mentoring.
Lead well, friends!
The content and thoughts within this article are my personal views only. They do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Army or the United States Military Academy.
If you find this post helpful, subscribe to receive weekly email notifications of new content!