Leadership and Organisational Development

As we all appreciate, organisations are systems of integrated parts, with leadership holding the tiller to guide the organisation’s journey. The organisation exists to achieve pre-determined business outcomes; leadership exists to change the organisation so it can more efficiently and effectively achieve that purpose.

Today, leadership can be characterised as having four hierarchical facets; personal leadership, team leadership, organisational leadership and external leadership. Personal leadership is about what individuals contribute; team leadership is about how groups engage to their common purpose, organisational leadership is about how the organisation delivers and uses its leadership resources, and external leadership is about how the organisation portrays itself in the outside world of customers and other stakeholders.

Consistent with a systems view of the organisation, it is organisational leadership that has the greatest impact on business outcomes. This systems view regards leadership as a collective resource to be deployed for organisational betterment. It differentiates between leadership and the leaders who practise it.  It places leadership above leaders. It is this organisational leadership that supports organisational development, and in turn organisational development supports organisational leadership.

These concepts of leadership, as articulated by William Tate from The Institute For Systemic Leadership, provide a powerful refocus on the interplay between leadership and organisational development.

They suggest that development of personal leadership, whilst a necessary element, is not sufficient by itself to secure sustainability of the organisation, never mind organisational improvement towards better business outcomes.

They also suggest that confining leaders to the task of assuring excellence within their respective teams, again whilst a necessary element, is insufficient by itself to secure business success for the organisation.

 Rather, they suggest that leaders at all levels also need to engage with one another to improve leadership across the organisation-system. In practice this means organisation leadership needs to be on the agenda wherever leaders interact. It also means that leadership, as a scarce resource, needs to be applied differentially – prioritised into those domains where organisational improvement and better business results can be harvested. Mis-applied leadership is a waste as it achieves no organisational improvement and simply leaches out of the system.

William Tate suggests a range of initiatives that will lead to organisational leadership improvement; some are people development initiatives and some are organisational development:

  • develop individual leaders in their organisational context
  • develop team leadership
  • improve systems that affect leadership
  • improve the leadership culture
  • remove obstacles to leadership
  • cut out waste of leadership.

For those organisations that have already developed personal leadership and team leadership capability, now is the time to deploy those enhanced leadership resources to focus on organisational leadership for business outcomes improvement.

Organisation Development Institute is strongly placed to support improved organisational leadership.

The Kirkpatrick methodology that we use to design, develop and deliver personal and team leadership development programmes assures that leadership behaviours are developed within the workplace context, and with a clear line of sight to organisational performance and improved business results.

We use the Burke-Litwin Model of Organisational Performance as the platform for our business improvement consultancy, including our High Performance Work Initiative programme. The Burke-Litwin model is a systems model of the organisation and places organisational leadership as the significant driver of that system.

If you need some help to initiate organisational leadership improvement give us a call on 0508 ODI ODI

Tate, W: (2009); The Search for Leadership: An Organisational Perspective; Triarchy Press, UK.