The ‘Leadership Academy’ brings cutting edge thinking on leadership development

Tuesday, 2 September 2014 01:46 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Developing senior managers to take on leadership positions is a key concern of most boards and CEOs.  This becomes even more challenging when the future is very much different to the present and the past. The kind of leaders needed is different to the current leaders themselves. The challenges in the operative environment, customers, competition, investor expectations, and even the employee profiles expectations and behaviours are fast changing. In this context leadership development takes a key position in the CEO and board agenda. A widely-published survey conducted by Karen O Leonard once stated: “Since the 1980s the global proliferating of university-oriented executive education has led many organisations to develop an unbalanced and often exclusive focus on classroom learning as their solution to leadership development. As a result, these same organisations struggle to produce the quality and quantity of leaders they need to succeed over the long run.” In a McKinsey survey conducted in 2010 it was revealed that only a quarter of the responded had said that their training programs are effective at improving performance measurably. Though these refer to US organisations, the situation is not that different in Sri Lanka as well. It is a well-established management axiom that a well-balanced leadership development programs have 30% in formal education while 50% of the effort is devoted to on-the-job training with one-on-one coaching coupled with 20% of the attention being given to life experiences. Improvement from education comes when the training is a part of an extended experience rather than simply a discreet event, and is based on true principles identified through solid research. Coaching is not merely about a process of finding someone to confer but should have clear results that define the outcome of the engagement. When asked about their successes, great leaders often recall small events that had enormous impact on their leadership approach. Creating opportunities for these life experiences will accelerate leadership development. The Leadership Academy delivered by Deepal Sooriyaarachchi as a Certified Partner of RBL institute, co-founded by Dave Ulrich, is in fact a program well-structured using these insights. This unique program is built on the Leadership Code, which is a research based synthesis of the critical knowledge, skills and attributes that are essentials for effective leadership. The leadership code draws on interviews with renowned leadership theorists, researchers, and consultants who together have written over 60 books and thousands of articles, and administered over two million leadership 360 assessments. The research conclusion is that all effective leaders share competencies reflected in five simple rules, while each person’s leadership will look and feel somewhat different based on personality as well as external circumstances, to be successful, every effective leader must master these five fundamental rules – or what is called the Leadership Code. The five rules are that a leader must be a strategist who shapes the future, be an executor by making things happen, be a talent manager by engaging today’s talent, be a human capital developer and have personal proficiency through investing in him/herself. As can be expected the number of participants will be restricted because of the personal attention that has to be given to the participants. Some key features of the program are: The preparation of a personal development plan for every participant based on a 360 degree evaluation and focusing on one or two areas (to ensure effectiveness) to develop that are directly linked to results. The participants are personally coached by in this process. There are five class room learning sessions and they are scheduled interspersed to ensure minimum disruption to work, considering the senior positions candidates hold. The unique feature of the program is that mandatory business project the participants must lead parallel to the learning experience. This way the theory learnt in the classroom can be applied benefiting the organisations. In fact the benefit of the project must add more value to the bottom line of the organisation more than the investment made on behalf of the participants. Deepal insists that the projects must be sponsored by senior managers of the business. Some of the participants of previous sessions had been given projects that had the potential to add several millions to the company while some other projects would have far reaching long term impact such as establishing regional training centres, changing a manufacturing process, etc. Participants found that the proven but simple techniques introduced during the program could be easily used in the project thus made part of the self -development process. Deepal is the only Certified Partner in Sri Lanka of the RBL institute to deliver this program. He has already delivered two public programs and recently announced the third intake in partnership with LAHES – The Corporate Campus, a member of the LAUGFS Group. More details about the program are available from