5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

This post is Part 2 in a series called “5 Insights Into Leadership Development Future.” Each post in this series will address trends in leadership development and how to prepare leaders for success in a complex, connected global society (In case you missed it, Part 1 addressed trends in ethical awareness, leading with values and changes in the learning landscape). 


We are beginning to think more holistically about the leadership role, including its global scope and broad impact. Today I want to describe the important trend toward wholeness that is helping us improve our effectiveness in many arenas and will be changing our approach to leadership development.  

Have you noticed that: 

  • In health care, we are moving away from just treating symptoms to supporting wellness
  • In the workplace, we are moving away from focusing on treating specific individual groups of people well toward a goal of full inclusion
  • In education, we are (slowly) beginning to embrace preparing the whole child for a good life rather than focusing only on knowledge and test scores
  • In religion, we are beginning to understand common values, rather than focusing only on separate religious traditions
  • In business, we are beginning to think about ourselves as one global community rather than just a disparate set of countries and boundaries

This trend toward wholeness is informing approaches to leadership development in important ways. To see how well you’re helping leaders adapt to this trend, ask yourself:

Are we giving leaders the whole picture and expanding their awareness of how things connect? Are we helping them see global patterns and trends? – Help Them See the Connections

Are we developing them as whole leaders, addressing their thinking processes and habits and not just their observable skills? – Help Them Understand Their Own Leadership Terrain

Are we giving them a holistic picture of leadership responsibility and not just focusing on laws and ethics codes? – Help Them See the Full Scope of Ethical Leadership Responsibility

Applying the trend toward wholeness to the way we develop leaders can have powerful positive effects. For example, we can help leaders examine and improve their leadership thinking – to find out where they might be thinking narrowly and not holistically. 

Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, and Carol Connolly From The Center For Creative Leadership extend an invitation in their white paper Leadership Development Beyond Competencies: Moving to a Holistic Approach – “We call upon leadership developers to work together as a concerned community, to move beyond the established competency approach to offer deeper levels of leadership development.”

Specific Actions You Can Take Now to Help Leaders Adapt:

  1. Address leader learning on the internal as well as external aspects of leadership, helping leaders learn to manage their unconscious thoughts and become aware of how their thoughts can affect their behavior
  2. Help leaders understand the dimensions of what it means to take responsibility in leadership
  3. Get them talking about the places where they are observing a trend toward wholeness, and the impact of this trend on their lives and leadership

More to Come: I will be continuing this series with more important trends in leadership development and actions you can take to help leaders adapt.  Stay tuned for Part 3!

Top 100 Leadership Blog




Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Includes how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.

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©2016 Leading in Context LLC

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