by Marius Meyer


framework for growing leaders

lead development.png

In 2014, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) developed a serious of 19 HR Professional Practice Standards, ranging from absenteeism management through to succession planning. These standards were intended to assist HR Managers in implementing sound HR practices in support of the overall 13 National HR System Standards. One of the Professional Practice Standards was leadership development. The purpose of this standard was to guide HR and Learning and Development Managers in implementing a proper professional process when developing leaders at organisations. In this article I will summarise the key focus and process outlined in the leadership development standard.


Where does Leadership Development fit into the HRM System?

Leadership Development processes are informed by the Talent Management Strategy and form an important Talent Management Intervention. Leadership Development is a special form of Learning and Development and is a critical success factor to effective processes along the HR Value Chain including Performance Management, Remuneration and Recognition Management, Employment Relations Management and Employee Wellness Management.

The working groups agreed on the following definition of Leadership Development:

A structured and facilitated process to grow leaders and those identified as potential leaders in their ability to unlock potential in themselves, in others and through others.

What are the fundamental requirements for good leadership development practice?

  1. The organisation should have a clear idea of what constitutes good leadership in that particular organisation and should develop a leadership competency model comprising several relevant dimensions to express that idea.
  2. Development of an individual’s leadership potential is specific to that individual, so leadership development practices should take into account personal preferences, styles, needs and circumstances. A range of development opportunities should therefore be provided.
  3. Leadership development should be role-modelled and led by top and senior managers, who should take on mentoring and other developmental roles.


According to the SABPP standard on leadership development, a typical process to be implemented is shown below:

Source: ©SABPP (2015). National HR Professional Practice Standards. Johannesburg: SABPP (diagram)

From the process it is clear that a company should have a clear position on leadership development. This position should be documented in a leadership development strategy document. It is then important to articulate an implementation process for leadership development, including a leadership competency framework. Once the overall leadership competencies are clear, leadership identification could be done, including other supporting talent development analysis before specific interventions can be decided on. The interventions are then implemented and evaluated.

To assist companies to be successful with leadership development, the standard provides the following checklist as key milestones as part of the leadership development process:

  • Leadership development strategy
  • Leadership development process
  • Defined competencies, qualifications, functional ability

Identification of:

- Who – current and potential leaders
- Career path, succession planning and career planning
- Assessment of as is vs to be and gaps
- Profiling
- Individual and team/division/department/area effectiveness

  • Differentiation of academic programmes and personal leadership effectiveness development (internal and external)
  • Communication intervention process (awareness)
  • Feedback and review processes

The SABPP leadership development standard provides a systematic organisation development approach to leadership development in the workplace. The standard attempts to move beyond current haphazard and inconsistent approaches to leadership development. Despite its clear process of leadership development, the standard does not prescribe in detail how an organisation should develop its leaders. Rather, the focus has been on ensuring that the right building blocks are in place. The specific methodology remains the discretion of the manager responsible for leadership development, bearing the unique circumstances of the organisation, including the context in which the company operates. While the leadership development Professional Practice Standard has been in place since 2014, phase six of the National HR Standards Project will expand on this standard by developing a National Leadership Standard in September and October 2017.

Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) and author of 21 books for Juta, Van Schaik, Lexis-Nexis, Knowledge Resources and more than 300 articles for magazines such as HR Future, HR Voice, Talent Talks, Leadership Online and Achiever Magazine. Leaders will receive daily updates on progress with the development of the Leadership Standard, they can use the hashtag #LeadershipStandard and follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or Talent Talks on @talenttalksnet or by visiting the website

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This edition

Issue 409