A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Really Makes a Difference in Developing Leaders, Organizations & Communities

By Sarah Stawiski & Valerie Ehrlich

At CCL, we have been developing leaders across the globe for more than half a century. Beginning with the Leadership Development Program (LDP)®, (and before our time at CCL), our research colleagues set out more than two decades ago to formally evaluate the effectiveness of this program in helping leaders become more effective. The impetus of these early efforts was to be true to our roots as a research organization and to fulfill our mission of improving the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.

Over the years, we’ve seen it all; from traditional classroom programs, to on-line learning, to community-based projects, to learning to lead via sailing! To this day, we have an obligation to ensure that there is evidence that what we’re doing actually makes a difference. Since those earliest evaluations CCL conducted, we have evaluated hundreds of programs, in a wide range of industries, across six continents, and focused on diverse groups of leaders-from elementary school students to corporate CEOs. Our jobs involve helping to discern what really works and how to take our insights to help the work continue to grow and improve.

Based on this collective experience and based on hundreds of thousands of data points, we have learned a great deal about what impact can be expected in leadership development, what factors contribute to achieving impact, what methodologies work best in measuring impact, and more. And, we continue to gain new insight and learn more each and every day we are doing this work.

As a team of researchers, evaluators and data scientists, we have always placed value on sharing what  we’re learning across CCL, and with our clients. We routinely present at national, and international  conferences, and via a variety of publication outlets. However, we want to share even more: more insights, more frequently, more broadly. And for that reason, we are so thrilled to launch a new series of blogs on ccl.innovation.org that will focus on the impact of leadership development.

Over the next several months, we intend to share our learnings via this blog series, with topics such as: the impact of leadership development programs on resilience, what makes online leadership development most effective, how we’re infusing leadership development across an entire school district, and what we’re learning about the supports and barriers that impact leaders in the social sector. We will also explore questions of methodology and measurement.