Leadership is a Process


“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” – Peter Northouse (2010) 

Maybe you know the theories, you’ve read the research, you’ve studied the models, but… a process involves actions and behaviors. Wick, Pollock, Jefferson, and Flanagan (2006), experts on corporate training transfer, interviewed participants and their managers and discovered that only about 15% of the people could provide specific examples of actually applying what they learned in training to the job. Michael Leimbach (2010) reports that only about 35% of what was applied after a typical training course was still being applied a year later. Other general estimates of typical training transfer range from about 5% to 20%. But never mind the statistics, what does your own experience tell you?  Adopting effective leadership practices usually involves overwriting habitual behaviors – we don’t usually start with a blank slate. Perhaps St. Paul’s lament sounds familiar:

 “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.”

It’s hard enough to know which leadership approaches to use in which context but the real challenge is in changing existing patterns of behavior and replacing them with more effective ones. Most of our behaviors are unconsciously motivated and automatically executed. Even when we are aware of them, it doesn’t mean we can simply flip a switch and behave differently. This blog attempts to share general insights about which leadership approaches to use when and how to make ourselves actually behave in the desired way.


Leimbach, M. (2010). Learning transfer model: A research-driven approach to enhancing learning effectiveness. Industrial and Commercial Training. 42(2), 81-86.

Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 9781412974882.

Wick, C., Pollock, R., Jefferson, A., & Flanagan, R. (2006). The six disciplines of breakthrough training. San Fransisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

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