Leadership Development's New Era: New Challenges, New Approaches

The Future of Leadership Development

For professionals developing and executing leadership development initiatives in their organisations, a new era has begun. What has changed, and why? What will the critical success factors for impactful leadership programs be in the next three years? What are the implications for L&D professionals, and those that fund these programs?


Recently, HFL hosted two gatherings – one in Sydney and one in Melbourne – to explore these key questions. Six senior people and culture executives from our client organisations presented as members of a panel, and this was followed by table discussions around the issues, participated in by the 80 executives representing 65 different organisations who attended the events.


Summary of discussions and conclusions Alistair Gordon, managing director of HFL, provides an executive summary of the key changes posited by the discussion group, and the 10 Critical Success Factors for Leadership Development Initiatives developed during the comments and conversations at the event.


HFL has produced a Discussion Paper which briefly outlines the changes that were discussed in details at these events. The broad collective views of the group on what best practice now looked like as a consequence of these changes is presented, and it makes for interesting reading. The purpose of the Discussion Paper is to generate discussion, and help People and Culture teams audit and refresh thinking and programs. It’s “what they said”, and as you’ll see, it also contains “what HFL thinks”. We hope it adds to the debate and best practice in a useful manner.


The key changes posited were:


A changing mix of leadership skills be demanded by the business


The growing knowledge of senior leadership about effective leadership development


The increasing speed and regularity of change in the business environment, and consequently in organisations


The increasing demand for programs that have immediate business application and impact, rather than “blanket programs”


The increasing scrutiny from business for all learning and development investment proposals, and


The increasing appetite among senior business teams to invest in benchmarking exercises.


The ten key best practice themes identified and discussed by the group were:


Authentic strategic alignment is critical


Build journeys that can flex and adapt


Benchmark the behaviours


Promote and deliver visible value


Make business ownership of programs real


It’s all about speed and urgency


Be creative in building blended solutions


Customers want custom


Focus on core, high performance behaviours


Understand executive mindset


Alistair Gordon, assisted by Heather Forton, Maria Leske, and Jennifer Scott

HFL, February 2013


For a copy of the Discussion Paper, please contact us



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