cover photo Reflect Blog
Ingo Kallenbach

Success factors for effective leadership development

The consequences of poor management and how you can avoid them through holistic development

Managers are the key players in every company. They shape the prevailing behaviours and play a decisive role in shaping the corporate culture. Misconduct on the part of managers is particularly evident in a weak, emotional bond between employees and the company. The resulting lack of willingness to perform leads to annual economic costs of up to 109 billion euros. Sustainable investment in the holistic development of managers is therefore indispensable for long-term economic success.

The consequences of poor leadership

In the Gallup survey of 2016, almost 70% of respondents said they have experienced' bad' leadership in their careers. More than 80% of the respondents even thought about quitting their current job due to the behaviour of the manager (Gallup Engagement Index Germany 2016). Poor management, such as a lack of appreciation of employees or hierarchical communication structures, leads to a lack of commitment on the part of employees. This results in marked fluctuation, high absenteeism and lower productivity. Further studies, such as that of the Institute of German Business (2013), have shown that the perceived leadership quality and economic success of an organization are closely related. A clear discrepancy can be observed between the self-assessment of managers and their perception of employees' performance. Employee satisfaction is the decisive factor for the productivity of a company. In this way, companies with above-average customer and employee satisfaction achieve higher returns than the average. In addition to the level of income and job security, employee satisfaction is largely determined by the behaviour of the direct manager. Above all, managers can increase the satisfaction of their employees through appreciation, honest feedback and interest in people. Good management thus becomes the core element of a company's long-term economic success.

Balanced management according to the principle of healthy organisation

Balanced leadership according to the concept of a "healthy organisation" includes the process of self-management as well as social influence on the actions of others, i. e. employees and colleagues. Through the balance within and between the three levels of self-, team- and company management, a healthy balance is established in the individual dimensions as well as in the overall organisation. Balanced management focuses on creating a constructive working environment for employees in which, in addition to individual potential, team and organisational potential can be optimally developed. 'Good' leadership is not understood as the top of the hierarchy pyramid, but as a kind of service that serves as a support for self-management. Managers serve as role models for a healthy way of dealing with oneself and a trusting relationship. They inspire initiative, challenge their employees and colleagues with new challenges and sustainably promote their personal skills. This type of leadership is referred to as 'balanced', as managers aim to bring the individual company dimensions and the overall organisation into harmony with themselves and their environment. Managers are responsible for the development of their employees and colleagues. Successfully implemented, good management is the result of committed, creative, satisfied and healthy employees.

Typical mistakes and pitfalls in leadership development

Good leadership that can be implemented in the long term requires sustainable and effective leadership development. The combination of different programs and trainings is useful for this purpose. However, the following points should always be taken into account in order to avoid typical mistakes and pitfalls in the practical implementation:

At the beginning of a program, you should define the target vision of the organisation. A detailed elaboration of the program's expectations is helpful. This includes, for example, defining the characteristics, competencies and behaviors that executives are expected to have in the respective organisational context. This also includes analysing the individual potential in advance. Often there is no personal briefing beforehand, so that the participants of the programmes often do not know the purpose for which they are being carried out. In many cases, the programs are not adapted to the person and needs of the organization. In spite of the relatively high amount of work involved in designing individual development programs, the focus of the programs should be on practical, individual learning beyond standardised training. Similarly, carrying out purely sporadic or actionist training is useless. Leadership development programmes must be set up and monitored on a long-term basis in order to prevent old habits from creeping back in and the desired effects from disappearing again after a short period of time. The sustainability of programmes is fundamental to their effectiveness.

Four success factors for effective and sustainable leadership development:

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For effective and sustainable leadership development, it is crucial to identify, focus and promote the individual potential and strengths of each manager. The four success factors of wholeness, individualisation, topicality and sustainability characterise the development programme for the design of a balanced leadership according to the principle of healthy organisation. The training courses take place in a holistic framework, which includes orientation on fixed quality criteria and clear corporate values. The individual measures and programme items will be coordinated with each other and will remain in a common, comprehensive context for the entire duration of the training courses. In the best case scenario, an individual programme is developed for each manager that promotes personal strengths and potential. Management development is based on the principle of being up to date with current and future corporate challenges. The sustainable design of the programmes, i. e. their continuous operation, enables us to achieve long-term and lasting improvements in quality and virtually guarantee effective development.


Poor leadership jeopardises the productivity of an organisation and, in extreme cases, costs a lot of money. Good managers thus become an essential condition for the long-term economic success of an organisation. Effective development programs based on the four success factors of wholeness, individualisation, timeliness and sustainability promise the greatest successes in terms of increasing leadership quality.

(editorial realisation: Corinna Brucker)

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Gallup Commitment Index Germany 2016