Leadership for Success


The Organisational Development Manager at the City of Marion posed a question: “What would a leadership development program for our middle managers look like if it were to support our focus on our cultural transformation efforts and assist us deliver our vision of community sustainability?”

His earlier survey of the leadership development market revealed management oriented programs offered by universities that were technically oriented but not necessarily supportive of the City of Marion’s commitment to a ‘constructive culture’ as described by Human Synergistics nor their commitment to their community to support a sustainable future.

Designing “Leadership for Success”

Founded in our own academic research into understanding sustainability in organisations and our corporate experience we developed a program that:

•   embedded the values of the Human Synergistics “constructive culture”; and

•   was underpinned by a worldview of interconnectedness to support the sustainability focus.

The program comprised four different modules – each building upon the previous modules and carrying them forward into new modules. The first module encouraged self awareness of values, strengths and mental models and supported the bulk of the program in module two about ‘how to set your people up for success’ in day to day management. The third module provided both theory and action learning around leading change in conditions of complexity and employed the adaptive leadership framework in particular. The final module of the program provided an opportunity to share learning and influence the executive of the organisation around what had been learned.

Delivery of Significant Success

Its not often an organisation invests to determine the return on investment in such a leadership development program but our combined resources revealed we had been successful in our efforts in  meeting major objectives:

•   Increasing levels of emotional intelligence; and

•   Increasing frequency of ‘constructive’ behaviours.

The program evaluation reported:

In summary, participants indicated that the content met their needs and was useful for their leadership development. While the content was not completely new to most, they reported their thinking being stimulated and actually employing ideas at work. The majority also enjoyed the different approach to learning (a group coaching methodology) – some took a little while to get used to this.

The major benefits of the program were identified as:

• Learning about how to ‘get the best out of people’ (approx 87%)

• Using personal strengths to guide career decisions and conversations with staff (50%)

• Encouraging people to think outside normal day to day activities (38%)

• Developing relationships with others within CoM – internal networking (38%)

Success was also measured by a ‘before’ and ‘after’ Life Style Inventory that is displayed below. Although not all participants undertook the retest, resulting in an unknown bias, a clear pattern of a significant increase in ‘blue’ supports the qualitative evaluation obtained through individual interviews with each participant.

“Leadership for Success” has been delivered on four separate occasions in the City of Marion during the period 2008-2014.

Comparison of pre and post LSI 2 for Leadership for Success pilot program participants.
Comparison of pre and post LSI 2 for Leadership for Success pilot program participants.