A challenging question for every organization is: how do we develop/train our leaders at every level in the organization? There are assumptions that leadership is composed of a set of skills or processes. Zenger and Folkman present data in the table below from a wonderful blog regarding C-level officers, managers, supervisors’ perceptions of leadership skills, and qualities necessary to do their job. This blog attempts to sort out the variables into categories that can be used for assessment and intervention.

Character qualities such as integrity, honesty, drive, engaging in self-development, or taking initiative are most likely not trainable or teachable. They are qualities that develop over the person’s life time. These are qualities to be assessed when you hire the individual as you are not going to have much of an impact on developing character by the time they enter the work world.

Inspiring and motivating others, communicating, building relationships, developing others, and connecting the group to the outside world are all related to a complex set of verbal, written, group facilitation, and teaching skills in addition to the ability to assess team members strengths and weaknesses. Skills are assumed to be teachable and competency can be assessed; therefore, it is important to think through how you would teach these types of skills as part of a professional development plan.

Complex problem solving and analysis are a combination of adult cognitive developmental complexity and having the analytic, evaluative, and probabilistic reasoning methodologies. Mines, King, Hood, and Wood (1990) found that there are qualitative differences in complex reasoning as well as critical thinking skill differences. Elliot Jacques’ work also demonstrated that cognitive complexity, which he defined in terms of time span of projects, also increased throughout the managerial hierarchy. The role of strategic thinking also has cognitive complexity elements to the process. These types of processes require a base of methodology knowledge and practice scenarios with feedback from those with more complexity.

Finally, the ability to innovate and develop stretch goals may be related not only to the culture of the organization interacting with actual creative skills but also risk aversion and other cognitive bias elements. All of these factors interact in a given individual and present a complex assessment and development challenge for management who have an eye on succession planning and staff development.







Have a day filled with kindness!


Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO


Levels of Intellectual Development and Associated Critical Thinking Skills in College Students

Mines, R.A., Hood, A., King, P., & Wood, P., (1990). Journal of College Student Development, 31 538-547.