“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  — President John F. Kennedy

The area of leadership development has exploded in the past 20 years. This is in part as a result of Millennials entering the workforce with a leadership capability gap and a need to address this gap.

Many studies has shown that organisations regard a shortage of quality leaders as one of the biggest impediments to organisational growth globally. Findings from the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s Executive Development 2016 survey suggests that South African organisations can do more to improve their leadership development efforts. Recent research has shown that high-performing companies spend one-and-a-half to two times more on leadership development than their competitors.

Human Interest has a dedicated division focussing on employee development, and have created an “Influential Leader” framework comprising of 20 carefully selected competencies that have been linked to positive business results. Our flagship Leadership Development programme is based on this framework.

However, it is not as simple as it sounds. There are many considerations that should be taken into account before embarking on developing leaders. Our experience has revealed five crucial things to consider:

  • Overlooking context – Not all organisations are the same. To assume there is a one-size-fits-all leadership development model is simply incorrect. Different organisations put emphasis on different competencies and some ‘general’ competencies need to be applied differently across organisations. The context of an organisation, its business strategy and the operational environment will determine what competency is more important and how it is applied – and thus how it should be developed.
  • Not measuring results – Too often, when developing leaders, candidates are assessed on what has been learnt during a programme. This is an acceptable first step, however assessment cannot simply stop there. There needs to be assessments of knowledge application. This refers to how well the learnt aspects are being applied in the workplace. The aim of a programme is to develop people to perform better in the workplace, yet many people do not follow this through. Other aspects that could also be assessed are changes in behaviour, the effect on the organisation’s bottom-line or the number of managerial promotions.
  • Training vs Development – The distinction between these two concepts is essential. Training assumes a person lacks a certain skill and is taught that skill. Training also assumes that there is one correct way of doing something. Development on the other hand assumes a person already has potential and focuses on growing it. Development acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all leadership style and has a future-oriented approach.
  • Focused on the theoretical – According to McKinsey, adults typically retain just 10% of what they hear in classroom lectures, versus 66% when actually doing. Although understanding the underlying theory of concepts should not be discredited, one needs to also balance it out with ways in which to practically apply the competency. It is simply not helpful, for example knowing what assertiveness means without knowing how to be assertive.
  • Lack of support – The desired results of a leadership programme, if new leaders are not given sufficient support in their new roles, are unlikely to show. Just over 60% of the managers that participated in the USB survey believe that their companies provide new leaders with sufficient support to help them cope with their new responsibilities. A lack of support before and after training is likely to negatively impact whether a person chooses to apply what they have learnt.

Janko A. Kotzé
Organisational Psychologist
M: +27 (0)83 233 7147
E: janko@humaninterest.co.za

About the author

Janko is an Industrial and Organisational (IO) Psychologist and holds a Master’s Degree in IO Psychology at Unisa (Cum Laude). He has extensive consulting experience and has designed and delivered Talent Management solutions to over 30 clients across various industries.

He is the Founder and Director of Human Interest Consulting. A boutique talent management consulting firm that partners with organisations to create high-performing, integrated Talent Ecosystems that allow people to prosper. He is a skilled people strategist and facilitator and likes to embed new strategies through individual and group coaching engagements.

Janko has written numerous articles and is a sought after conference speaker. He has represented South Africa in the 110m hurdles at Youth, Junior and Senior National level and has aided international athletes and sport teams in the art of Mental Excellence.

Janko’s qualifications include a BCom Sport Management, BCom Hons Industrial Psychology, Certificate in Marketing & Customer Centricity (Cum Laude) and an Intensive Coaching Training Accreditation (Cum Laude). He is a member of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychologists of South Africa (SIOPSA), Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP).

Lara Bloch
Intern Organisational Psychologist

About the author

Lara holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organisational Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. Lara’s qualifications include a BA (Psychology & Linguistics) (Cum Laude), in which she received a University Council Member Scholarship, eight Certificates of First Class and two Certificates of Merit, a BA Honours Psychology (Cum Laude), in which she received the Postgraduate Honours Merit Award, a BA Honours Industrial/Organisational Psychology (Cum Laude), in which she received a Certificate of First Class for her Research titled “Absenteeism and presenteeism as proxies of productivity change pre and post-occupancy in a Green building in South Africa”. For her Master’s year in Industrial/Organisational Psychology she received the Postgraduate Masters Merit Award. She also received the National Research Foundation’s Innovation Masters Scholarship for her research titled “Impact of indoor plants on work engagement and well-being perceptions”, which is awarded to those at the frontier of knowledge in innovation areas, as well as for academic merit.

Lara is a qualified Psychometrist and registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa, after completing her degree at the University of Johannesburg. She is accredited in using the following psychometric assessments: 16PF, Giotto Integrity Test, the Work-related Risk and Integrity Scale (WRISc), MBTI and the Saville WAVE Assessment. Lara was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society in 2011, which recognises the Top 15% of students per field of study for outstanding academic performance. Lara holds the following certificates: Divorce and Family Mediation, Law for Mediators and Psychology for Lawyers. Lara is part of the Johannesburg’s Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA) branch committee.

Lara prides herself in ensuring her work is completed efficiently with careful attention to detail, to produce the highest quality output. Lara is able to tackle complex situations with consistency and perseverance. She will take initiative, in order to learn and grow professionally. Lara lives by the following quote, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”.


Deloitte. (2015). Global Human Capital Trends: Leading in the new world of work. Deloitte University Press. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/at/Documents/human-capital/hc-trends-2015.pd

Gurdjian, P., Halbeisen, T., & Lane, K. (2014). Why leadership-development programs fail. McKinsey Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/leadership/why-leadership-development-programs-fail

Kivland, C., & & King, N. (2015). Six reasons why leadership training fails. Retrieved from http://www.learningexecutive.com/CLLC/2015/2015LECoverStory-SixReasonsWhyLeadershipTrainingFails_AResearchReview.pdf

Malagisi, F. (2015). 9 Reasons Leadership Development Fails. Retrieved from http://www.hci.org/blog/9-reasons-leadership-development-fails

Myatt, M. (2012). The #1 reason leadership development fails. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/12/19/the-1-reason-leadership-development-fails/#687f1fe76522

Profiles International (2014). Why leadership development fails (and how to make it a success). Retrieved from https://gcatd.org/resources/Documents/Special%20Interest%20Groups%20(SIGs)/Learning%20LeadLea/Why%20Leadership%20Development%20Fails%20White%20Paper.pdf

University of Stellenbosch Business School. (2016). The South African Management Index Report 2015 / 2016. Retrieved from http://www.usb-ed.com/ManagementIndexReport/MIR2016.pdf

Enjoyed our thinking?
Get in touch to understand how we can support you.