Question: Leadership Development in the 21st Century

The work of well-known thought leaders is still influential in today's changing environment (leaders like Ken Blanchard, John Maxwell, Frances Hasselbein, Stephen Covey, and Tom Peters).

But as times have changed, what themes are emerging in leadership that aren't being addressed?
Who is currently shaping the leadership conversation in business and nonprofit spaces?
What types of leadership programs or consultants are being engaged by organizations, and which issues/problems are they working on?
What topics (and speakers) are in demand at industry conferences?
What needs are you seeing going forward?

Expert Insight

What do I see as the critical issue for the development of leaders today and for the rest of the century? Developing the aspiring leader’s ability to learn more effectively from experience. Regardless of industry, organization, or leadership level, the ability to learn effectively from experience is becoming the most important success factor.

It is pretty widely acknowledged that experience can be the best teacher. The 70:20:10 perspective suggests that 70 percent of a leader’s capability is developed from experience, 20 percent comes from relationships with other people, and 10 percent comes from formal learning sources (training, books, etc.).
Despite this widespread acknowledgement of the importance of experience to leader development, the leadership development field has not developed the theoretical frameworks, models, and tools to help people make the most of their experiences.

A few recently published research reports highlight the issue:
1. Professionals increasingly expect to drive their own development. 79% of professionals now expect their development to come from non-L&D sources, with experience being a key driver (Corporate Executive Board, Building a Productive Learning Culture, 2014).

2. Professionals understand that experience-driven development is critical to their career success. Access to better professional development opportunities is ranked as one of the three most important factors by nearly half of those considering a job change (LinkedIn Global talent Trends, 2015).

3. Individuals and their organizations need help leveraging experience more effectively. Despite the statistics above, approximately 55% of people in the CEB study cited above indicated they had not regularly extracted lessons from their work experiences. In fact, well-intentioned but poorly conceived stretch assignments were cited by L&D leaders as one of the biggest sources of waste in their learning and development efforts (Corporate Executive Board, Building a Productive Learning Culture, 2014).

Tools for thinking differently
The unique perspective that I bring is an immediately accessible Experience Model for helping people to make the most of their experiences. The model is based on a simple, but powerful idea. You can think about any work experience using two fundamental dimensions: Intensity and Stretch.

Intensity describes the extent to which a situation requires you to face more performance demands than you’ve faced before.  Stretch describes the extent to which a situation requires you to face different performance demands than you’ve faced before—to be successful you need to learn new and different things, often in unfamiliar areas.

If you put these two dimensions together, you create the Experience Model which outlines four types of experience: Delivering, Mastering, Broadening and FrameBreaking. We have created a set of tools that enable a leader or aspiring leader to quickly apply the Experience Model to be more strategic about their own development.

The model is explained in a book chapter, published by Wiley and the Center for Creative leadership, “Intensity and Stretch: The Drivers of Development.”  This chapter is made available as the only free chapter download from the Wiley site I have also self-published a book on Amazon, “FrameBreaking Leadership Development: Think differently about work experiences to achieve more, faster.”

I am also including a link to a short 2-page document outlining the Experience Model

Information is also available on our main website, and you can get a free trial of our newest tool here: