Afiniti Insights

What is Leadership Team Development? The Secret to Sustaining Change

Leadership team development should be a feature of all mature organisations, especially those undergoing change. Often, the focus of development is kept on more junior employees, but it is equally important to grow your highly skilled, experienced people too. Physicians are also highly skilled people, and they must undergo regular development to remain effective. The business world changes far more rapidly than the medical world, so why should its leaders receive less regular development?

As high-level senior executives navigate the complexities of today’s business environment, and their own evolving organisations, an emphasis on leadership team development helps create true change leaders and often correlates with sustained success.

Therefore, this insight will unravel the intricacies of leadership team development in the context of organisational change, showing you:

  • What is leadership team development?
  • Why is leadership team development important?
  • How to build a leadership development strategy
  • Should I use a leadership framework?
  • How to create a leadership framework
  • The role of leadership team development in succession planning

What is leadership team development?

Leadership team development transcends traditional training programmes. While training seeks to impart specific skills or knowledge, development refers to a holistic, ongoing process aimed at enhancing a person’s overall effectiveness. This not only encompasses acquiring new skills, but also cultivating mindsets, emotional intelligence and strategic thinking, all of which are key to the successful delivery and adoption of business change.

More practically, where training tends to be task-oriented and focused on specific job roles, development is a long-term investment to build the capabilities and competencies required for ongoing success.

An organisation making the shift from training to leadership team development demonstrates a proactive approach to their leadership and their responses to dynamic  internal and external change.

Why is leadership team development important?

Senior leaders have reached their positions by building their skills and experience to a level where they can successfully guide their people and organisation. However, the needs of their people are not static, especially during periods of organisational change. Therefore, the expectations on and skills of a leader must also change.

Given their positions and workloads, many leaders aren’t conscious of this, and as a result, leadership team development can act as a catalyst for self-awareness and growth. Done properly, it allows leaders to challenge their own assumptions, refine their skills and adapt to business change with more agility. 

How to build a leadership development strategy

The specific scope and focus areas of your leadership development strategy will depend on your current leadership roles/skills and the objectives of your organisational change.

That said, all good leadership development strategies should consider the following things:

Achieving alignment: In order to be successful, your leadership development strategy should start by aligning individuals’ goals to the objectives of your change programme and your overarching organisational strategy; enhancing effectiveness is a waste of investment if it doesn’t benefit the wider business.

Aligning leadership development initiatives with change or company vision requires a deep understanding of your current business landscape while also anticipating future challenges you might face.

Constantly assessing skills: Your leaders’ capabilities need to evolve in tandem with your organisation’s needs. Therefore, continuously assessing leadership skills throughout the change lifecycle will help identify any gaps that emerge while ensuring development initiatives are relevant.

Implementing regular feedback mechanisms and performance evaluations will unlock valuable insights into the effectiveness of your leadership team members that will guide more targeted development efforts.

Optimise use of resources: Because leadership development is a specialised and ongoing activity, you should consider whether your leaders have the time, self-awareness and knowledge to own their development, or if the training function of your organisation is equipped to do this for them, particularly if your change requires a large amount of resource allocation.

Alternatively, you might find it more efficient and effective to use a specialised external provider to bring fresh perspectives and proven expertise to your change leadership. Collaborating with industry experts can enhance the breadth and depth of your development programme, introducing new experience, best practices and innovative approaches to accelerate leadership growth and, consequently, change delivery.

Should I use a leadership framework?

A leadership framework is a structured model that outlines the competencies, behaviours and values essential for effective leadership within an organisation. It serves as a guide for leadership team development, providing a common language and clear roadmap for leadership growth.

The benefits of using a leadership framework include a cohesive, consistent and unified approach to leadership through standardisation, which enables fair and objective assessments across departments and geographies. This consistency can be highly valuable during periods of organisational change.

Additionally, by clearly defining your desired leadership competencies and values in a framework, you can more easily direct attention to more specific areas of leadership team development to help you reach your company objectives more quickly.

Types of leadership development framework

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a leadership development framework, and you should use one that best suits your change programme. There are several popular types that you might like to start with:

Competency-based: Competency frameworks, for example the leadership pipeline model, highlight the key skills and behaviours required at each leadership level within an organisation so that these can be developed.

Values / purpose-based: Ethical leadership and purpose-driven leadership frameworks emphasise the importance of aligning leaders’ actions with the organisation’s values and broader sense of purpose.

Theory-based: These frameworks are built on proven leadership theories, for example transformational, situational and servant leadership. These different perspectives on effective leadership approaches can form the foundation for a leadership development framework.

How to create a leadership framework

Regardless of the type of leadership framework you choose to implement to support leadership team development, there are key areas you should focus on before, during and after implementing your change to ensure development is effective:

Before change – conduct a skills gap analysis: A skills gap analysis identifies the disparity between your current leadership skills and those required to achieve your organisational objectives. This analysis will guide the development of targeted programmes that seek to address specific gaps and enhance overall leadership effectiveness.

During change – keep strategic goals in mind: Your leadership framework should be directly linked to the overarching goals of your change. By ensuring all initiatives that stem from the framework align, you can be more confident the skills and mindset your leaders cultivate will drive successful achievement of your goals.

After change – regular review: The end is just the beginning! Once your leadership framework has been built and implemented alongside your change, it should evolve in tandem with your business, never becoming static. Base regular reviews on leaders’ feedback and performance data to ensure the framework and any development remains relevant and impactful.

The role of leadership team development in succession planning

Leadership team development is inseparable from succession planning, which is critical to ensuring the continued survival and growth of an organisation. As seasoned leaders evolve within their roles, succession planning identifies and nurtures potential successors, mitigating the risks associated with leadership gaps.

This can be especially beneficial during organisational change, as new models, tools and processes can open up opportunities for new talent to support them.

A robust leadership team development strategy, supported by leadership frameworks, will make it easier to identify and nurture high-potential leaders, create a talent pipeline of skilled leaders ready to step into key roles as the need arises and reduce dependency on external hires to preserve your organisation’s unique culture and values.

In summary

Leadership team development is a strategic necessity for forward-thinking and mature organisations, especially those implementing a change programme. Robust development will help leaders navigate the challenges of change, overcome self-perceptions and nurture future talent.

However, building a leadership development strategy requires a commitment to aligning it with your change, constantly assessing it and a willingness to leverage internal and external expertise. A more structured approach can be taken by creating a well-defined leadership framework, built on proven models to ensure it is both comprehensive and adaptable.

Growing your leaders along with your business will help ensure continued resilience and success as it changes. If you’d like to know more about how leadership team development can help you create change leaders, please reach out to our expert team who will be happy to learn more about your organisation.

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