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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Development and Learning in Organizations, Volume 27, Issue 3
Whilst we can argue about the veracity of unemployment figures around the world, there is no doubt that levels have dramatically increased since the global financial meltdown that took hold in 2008 – particularly for young people (Barnes, 2012). In our viewpoint for this issue, David Finlay Robinson asks us to consider the need for higher levels of entrepreneurship, leadership and corporate social responsibility to create, as he so aptly puts it, “[…] a future where hope and aspiration replace gloom and despondency.”
But, what of those who are in employment? How do managers ensure each individual is fully committed to and active in contributing to the purpose of their organization? Jane Sparrow shares the results of her recent research which outlines five key roles for leaders to play – prophet, storyteller, strategist, coach and pilot – to ensure effective employee engagement. Asking the leaders within your own organization to assess themselves against these capabilities might unearth some crucial developmental needs.
Our next article, by Marie Chidiac, invites us to challenge the possible over-use of “professional coaching” and to re-examine the benefits of working to create a coaching culture within each organization. She outlines some key steps to take to develop an environment where peers are willing and able to engage in coaching one another.
Many governments attempt to encourage – and some would say force – organizations to support their employees to develop their skills and capabilities through some form of training levy. But how well do these policies work – and what is the evidence that might encourage employers to fully engage with them? Junaidah Hashim and Saodah Wok serve up a useful summary of their research on the impact of such a system in Malaysia. Perhaps surprisingly, they conclude that the benefits to SMEs were greater than those for larger organizations.
We know that billions of dollars are spent on leadership development each year, but how well do we measure what we get in return? Stephen Archer bravely tackles this thorny issue of “return on investment” and focuses very much on business metrics rather than “happy sheets”. You might find it interesting to test your own programs against his suggestions.
The leadership development theme continues in our review articles. Firstly, in “Making our leaders look out the window”, we hear about three different programs with one common theme – keeping things real. All the activities appear to be based on participants’ real challenges, their actual relationships with one another and the opportunities and threats faced by their own organizations. Not a case study in sight – what a relief!
In “Action based learning best practice” we see the potential pitfalls of confusing Reg Revans’ original notion of working on “real problems” with the way that some programs bolt on an “action learning project” to other content-based, taught programs. Sometimes semantics are important.
Finally, the benefits of using mentoring to increase the number of women in board level positions is explored in “Making it through mentoring”. Women currently hold less than 15 percent of EU and 17.1 percent of US corporate board positions. Why should changing this be a key priority for all businesses? Let’s just look at the numbers and consider a quote from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, published last year:
[…] companies with one or more women on the board have delivered higher average returns on equity, lower gearing, better average growth and higher price/book value multiples over the course of the last six years.
Given the turbulence and market difficulties over that period, I would say the case is made. So, if you have accountability for developing future leaders, mentoring for young women might be a very good place to start.
Anne GimsonStrategic Developments International, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
Barnes, H. (2012), “Global youth unemployment: making sense of the numbers”, available at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19745115 (accessed 15 February 2013)
Rohner, U. and Dougan, B. (2012), “Gender diversity and corporate performance”, available at: https://infocus.credit-suisse.com/data/_product_documents/_shop/360145/csri_gender_diversity_and_corporate_performance.pdf (accessed 15 February 2013)