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Critique of "The Leadership Advantage"

Jimmy Bosse: Book Review of The Leadership Advantage

December 30th 2008 | Jimmy Bosse

The Leadership Advantage: How the Best Companies Are Developing Their Talent to Pave the Way for Future Success

In 2006, The American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC), the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), and Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE) partnered with Caterpillar, Cisco Systems, PepsiCo, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Washington Group International to study the best practices of how these organizations integrated leadership development into their career development/HR programs. The objectives of this study were to:

  • Discover best practices in tying leadership culture, values, practices, and development to business strategy
  • Identify best practices for creating strategically relevant collective-learning opportunities.
  • Uncover architectures for integrating various development initiatives for maximum impact.
  • Understand how organizations use leadership development to support the execution of business strategy and how to meet long-term needs to develop individual competencies while also building immediately needed organizational capability to address business challenges.

What they learned was that if an organization wants to be prepared for the challenges of the future, they need to put significant importance on identifying and developing future leaders. This is easier said than done as it is often difficult to get management to invest in an idea or philosophy whose results are measured in the future and not the present.

I felt that the subject matter turned out to be not extremely relevant to an organization of our size. It became apparent early on in the book, that unfortunately for me, the book was targeted more towards human resource professionals who are trying to adopt leadership training programs within their organizations.

There were, however some ideas I feel are translatable to the Thycotic environment. A strong element conveyed in the book was that to develop the leadership of potential future leaders, an organization needed integral involvement from the heads of the organization. Often the best method of gaining their participation was by having the CEO or other persons be involved as teachers in various training programs. This is something we see in practice at Thycotic with Jonathan’s presentations to the team. With the transition of myself and Kevin to Team Lead positions, I think it is important that he and I take many opportunities to present to the team.

The other item that I thought was very interesting was the notion of training individuals for immediate challenges, not just general training for some unforeseeable future. The idea is that if someone was being promoted to a new managerial position, you would train them for that specific new challenge and transition the training with them over the months as they grew into the position. This notion could be adapted to the Thycotic environment with the notion of “subject matter experts” who could take on a development challenge to learn a new subject matter in depth and then disseminate that knowledge through pairing to the team.

The final item which I thought was useful was the development of a mission statement and the constant indoctrination of that mission statement so that anyone could recite it back at any moment. I think this help to keep everyone headed in the same direction as it relates to representing Thycotic to the outside world.

In summary, don’t waste your time with this book. It is long-winded and overly academic. But it is sometimes useful to read something from other industries to “cross-pollinate” some ideas and methodologies that might be useful.

Jimmy Bosse is a Senior .Net Consultant with Thycotic who has been developing websites since 1995 and working with .NET and C# since 2001.

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