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The Science of Leadership

The Science of Leadership

Last night at the Board of Trade in Toronto, I listened to Dr. Julian Barling of Queens University Business School speak on Leadership, from his new book, “The Science of Leadership”.  He was a delightful speaker, with a twinkle in his eye often answering questions with a dry, humorous wit.  However his work was serious and well researched as only an academic’s would be.

Given that my life is one of developing, designing and delivering learning for leaders, teams and organizations, I was particularly interested in his comment about the lasting impact of even a five-hour session on leadership development.  On page 164 he poses the question, “How much leadership training is necessary or optimal?”  He notes that in a Swiss study, ‘charisma’ (adapting with yellow energy?) could be taught to middle managers in a five-hour training session followed by a one-hour telephone conversation in which a personalized leadership plan was developed.  The same research team did 20 hours of similar leadership training and noted that the latter 15 hours held diminishing benefits.

He goes on the say, “Practically, understanding just how intensive the intervention needs to be would help management understand what investment is required to make an organizational difference.  Based on current available data, the benefits of leadership interventions exceed the investments required.”

This bodes well for us at Insights Learning & Development were our leadership interventions are often required to be time sensitive, effective, objective driven, and immediately impactful.  Teaching leaders to be self aware and to understand the unique gifts that each person brings to a team is of utmost importance.

Finally Dr. Barling suggested that it is not the big things a leader does that makes the difference but the little things, like thanking people for their efforts.

–          Alan Maclachlan, President, Insights Toronto

Posted in: Leadership

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