Peter McLoughlin and Breck Arnzen, President of ArnzenGroup, created and led the first Leader
Development Forum in 2003.
The Leader Development Forum is a periodic, facilitated discussion among senior HR leaders to increase
their influence on leadership development in their organizations. In 2003 a selected group of HR leaders
from Boston-area companies began participating in a forum on leader development in their companies.
The members' feedback about the Forum’s effectiveness and impact was enthusiastic . “It’s all action-
learning;” said one participant, “it brings the classroom to our real challenges, and taps the power of peer-
Training in Leadership and Management is an important tool that organizations can use to accelerate
learning and grow tomorrow’s leaders. But managerial effectiveness is mainly influenced by other
factors/dynamics in the organization. In the Forum, HR leaders advance leadership development by
assessing and acting on these non-training influences. The forum looks at organizational system
components, the business and political context, and the HR Leader’s influence profile to increase
understanding and develop strategies to improve leadership development. The Forum focuses on
increasing the effectiveness of participants in the specific challenges they face.
The Leader Development Forum seizes a high-leverage opportunity by:
- analyzing/assessing the influences on leadership development in the participating organizations,
- identifying company-specific opportunities for improvement,
- challenging traditional thinking to improve understanding of organizational dynamics,
- planning immediate strategies and approaches,
- following up and re-strategizing, and
- increasing HR leaders’ influence and effectiveness in these processes.
- Discussions address the specific company dynamics, systems, players, and politics that influence
leader behavior and development.
- The forum leaders and participants bring more customized recommendations to specific situations
as they become increasingly knowledgeable about specific needs.
- Participants have access to the combined experience and insights of other HR leaders and the
- The forum gives HR leaders easy access to models and best practices in leader development.
- Meeting over time, the forum stimulates on-going learning, provides both support and
reinforcement to the HR leaders as their individual strategies evolve, and enhances their
effectiveness in orchestrating leader development over the long term.
- The forum leaders, Breck and Peter, bring extensive experience and expertise in leader
development, and in providing facilitative coaching for improved effectiveness for those in positions
The Leader Development Forum Approach
One way to look at how leaders gain skill is to recognize seven organizational touch points or processes
that influence leaders. These seven processes happen, to some degree, in organizations. Their impact
may be positive, neutral or negative, but in combination these processes can wield tremendous influence
on leader/manager behavior.
The seven components that influence leader development are:
- Identify organizational strategy + required competencies. The vision and path an
organization creates is the foundation of who is brought into the organization and what they are
expected to do. Communication about strategy and leadership requirements influences norms and
- Select / Assign. Decisions that put individuals in certain roles, charter them with certain
projects, and give authority/accountability have wide implications for what managers learn.
- Set Expectations. The directives and messages a manager receives from above create strong
impetus to act and to learn in order to get required results.
- Assess. Managers get valuable information when they hear (or guess) how they are doing against
the organization’s expectations, standards, and values.
- Coach/Advise. Managers get suggestions and mentoring from their bosses, other superiors, HR,
friends, etc., which can influence their approaches.
- Reward. People figure out what gets rewarded and therefore what is important in an
organization. Tangible rewards (like salary, bonuses, and stock options) and intangible rewards (like
recognition, hero-status, and promotions) all tell a story about what the company values and what
leaders should aspire to.
- Train and Educate. Organizations put managers in formal learning situations – ranging from
workshop to self-instruction to one-on-one settings. This is the process that gets the most
attention when HR people talk about leadership development. It has great potential for building
capability; but the other processes have even more.
Quotes from participants in earlier Forums:
- “My biggest take-away is that organization development, specifically leader development, should
not be viewed as a course or training but rather as numerous real-life opportunities that play a role
in making a difference.”
- “What was instrumental was gaining viable options for moving forward from bright and seasoned
consultants and peers.”
- "It’s been a great way to think about more strategic HR issues.
- “The systems model gave me a concise and useful tool.”
- “The program is directly tied to business impact. The learning is delivered through a variety of
means which keeps you interested and challenged.”
- “The Leader Development Forum provided a network of high caliber HR professionals to learn from
and to share ideas about organizational situations. Also, this forum provided a terrific resource for
future information sharing.”
- "Breck and Peter are extremely knowledgeable, clear thinking and creative consultants."
- "It was clear from this program that leadership issues are complex and can be addressed from a
number of different angles. You don’t necessarily have to have all the bells and whistles to
effectively address them. Having Peter and Breck and the other forum members present to
brainstorm with me made my specific organizational issues seem less daunting and unmanageable.
A number of the suggestions made were very useful and thought provoking."
- "Thank you so much for the invaluable opportunity of the Leader Development Forum. Not only
did I benefit from the wisdom and experience of two seasoned consultants who truly understand
our industry, HR and OD, I also received tremendous support and guidance from a network of
professional colleagues. Am excited to implement some of the many ideas we discussed and feel
more confident in my strategic HR role."
B I O G R A P H I E S
Breck Arnzen, President of ArnzenGroup, has over 20 years of experience consulting and coaching CEOs
and GMs from start-ups to global corporations. Breck has worked with over 200 organizations covering U.S,
Europe, Asia and Africa. His diverse industry and client experience includes: biotechnology,
pharmaceuticals, publishing, high technology, consumer packaging and manufacturing. Breck held the
position of Vice President of Leadership and Organization Development at Avery Dennison Corporation. He
has also held senior management positions with SmithKline Beecham and Digital Equipment Corporation.
Breck is a frequent presenter at management and professional conferences.
Click here for the ArnzenGroup Website
Peter McLoughlin assists organizations on a broad range of issues related to organizational effectiveness.
(see info on this site)
|The Leader Development Forum