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Leadership Development

How Mature Are Your Leadership Development Practices?

Leadership Development Maturity

Assess your current leadership development maturity and start planning for the future

The mindset of continuous improvement is one that HR and L&D professionals are familiar with. After all, leadership itself is a process that never stops, with leaders forever learning more effective strategies to drive results in changing work environments. Therefore, they ways in which we develop leaders must continually evolve as well. 

Last year, Bersin by Deloitte released their Leadership Development Maturity Model*, giving HR and L&D professionals a method to assess leadership development practices and effectiveness.

While leadership development programs do not have to be identical to be of the same quality, all high-impact leadership development programs must:

  • Be relevant to the issues your leaders are facing
  • Target specific and appropriate capabilities by leader level
  • Include learning and delivery mechanisms that will enable leaders to learn, retain, and apply new skills and knowledge


The Leadership Development Maturity Model sets forth four levels that define how evolved your leadership development practices are. Each level of the model is based on an assessment of six key leading practices:

  1. Maintain strong executive engagement
  2. Align with business strategy
  3. Define tailored leadership competencies
  4. Target all levels of leadership
  5. Integrate with talent management
  6. Apply a targeted solution

Which level of maturity does your leadership development practice fall into?


Main Characteristics of a Level 1 Organization: Foundational

  • Little or no management support
  • Organization provides a catalog of courses that has no strategic direction, is not progressive by level, and does not cultivate skills in any specific areas
  • Managers are on their own for development


Main Characteristics of a Level 2 Organization: Integrated

  • Organization begins to focus on the development of leadership skills
  • Organization has defined a core set of competencies and has developed the program curriculum around building skillsets that are related to those core competencies
  • Senior executives begin to embrace leadership development as a strategic imperative


Main Characteristics of a Level 3 Organization: Scalable

  • Organization intends to develop overall capabilities rather than just individual leaders’ needs
  • Culture-changing events occur and the focus is on preparing for the future
  • Organization applies a blended-delivery approach
  • Senior executives promote and participate in leadership development activities


Main Characteristics of a Level 4 Organization: Systemic

  • Senior management support is exemplary and senior leaders view leadership development as an integral part of the overall talent management system
  • Program content aligns with strategic priorities
  • Organization uses a truly comprehensive learning format to deliver programs


The clear majority of organizations (75 percent) that Bersin by Deloitte studied fall into the first or second level of maturity. Part of the equation for continuous improvement is staying close to trends and to the needs of leaders in your business. After all, the landscape is shifting quickly and our leaders are tasked with guiding our dynamic organizations through uncertainty, change, disruption, and other challenges.

As you contemplate your place in the four levels, here is some additional food for thought:

  • Organizations will typically fall into one of these categories or may find themselves straddling more than one level, given the maturity of the different components within each level
  • Organizations can move from one maturity level to another, either upward or downward
  • It is not necessarily wrong to be in a lower level of maturity; however, each successive level will produce better results

Now that we understand the leadership development characteristics that drive better outcomes, it’s time to start acting on these insights and move toward an action plan that prepares leaders for business needs across the organization.


*Find an overview of the Bersin by Deloitte Leadership Maturity Model here: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ca/Documents/audit/ca-audit-abm-scotia-high-impact-leadership.pdf 

Photo by Dmitri Popov on Unsplash

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Krista Skidmore

Krista Skidmore , CEO and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She manages FlashPoint's strategic direction with integrity and insight.