March 2013
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TD Magazine

The Seven Decades of Leadership Development

Friday, March 8, 2013
Editor’s Note: The Seven Decades of Leadership Development

  In looking back at 70 years of ASTD, I stumbled upon articles from past decades that focused on leadership development. This topic has been the source of many articles, education sessions, and debates over the years, and it doesn't appear to be letting up any time soon.


What started out in the 1950s as the examination of different models of leadership has exploded into succession planning, soft skills training, and the selection and development of high potentials. When people talk about leaders today, the words "transparency" and "trust" come up often, as do the concepts of creating an innovative environment, engaging employees, and building a succession plan that includes knowledge sharing and organizational development.

Over the years, T+D magazine has had some of the world's most renowned innovators on leadership—Warren Bennis, Ken Blanchard, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ed Cohen, and Edward Betof—pen articles that examine the many facets of this complex topic. Today's articles focus on preparing the future generations to take on leadership roles, training supervisors and managers to move up the corporate ladder, helping executives do more with less and engage their employees, and creating a trusting and transparent workplace culture.

The cover story examines a whole new issue surrounding leaders: the need for mindful leadership. According to author Erika Tierney Garms, there are four primary elements of mindful leadership: mastery of attention, clarity of intention, optimization of attitude and emotional intelligence, and integration into every domain of daily life, work, and relationships.


As Garms writes, "research reveals that the best leaders have some method to manage the constant onslaught of inputs and stimuli to maintain their presence of mind and good health."

The workplace has changed tremendously during the past 70 years, but the need to develop strong, capable leaders to succeed in this fast-paced work environment has remained constant. There is no one-size-fits-all leadership development program that works for all people and all organizations. Training and development professionals should create programs that help high potentials gain the soft skills necessary to motivate employees and communicate effectively, and should help executives establish an innovative culture that celebrates risk and reward.

Paula Ketter
Editor, T+D
[email protected]

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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