Training Leaders vs Developing Leadership

School of Professional & Continuing Education (SPCE)

Leadership development is a common training objective for many companies, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Do we train a few select leaders or entire teams? Do we focus on strategic planning or on tangible new skills that can be implemented right away? Do we train the C-Suite or middle management – or the high potential entry-level employees? One useful distinction for companies to make when considering a training investment is between leader and leadership development. JMU PCE’s Professional Development is expanding non-credit programming in both areas in 2021 – and here is an early leader lesson!  

Often, we use the term “leadership development” to mean training individuals to be more effective leaders. However, the academic leadership literature increasingly recognizes that leadership is a process rather than a person. Leadership therefore involves formal and informal leaders, followers, stakeholders, communication processes, goals, resources, and much more. This understanding can assist company decision-makers to match the correct type of training to their needs.

For companies interested in leader development, there are a number of useful approaches. Leader development training focuses on an individual’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes. An individual may take a project management course or a human resources course to development knowledge and skills. Or, a one-on-one coaching experience may suit. Assessment of conflict styles or the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can offer the individual personal insights into tendencies, strengths, and blind spots.

Alternatively, for companies interested in leadership development, the training approach is likely different. In this case, the objective is to develop an aspect of the overall leadership process. Therefore, perhaps all members of a team participate in agile project management approach in order that they can all adopt a new approach to managing workflow. Or, all middle and senior leaders participate in an MBTI assessment, workshop, and coaching program. Another alternative is having a company-wide shared learning experience centered on a book that addressing complex contemporary issues.

JMU PCE Professional Development provides all of these example training opportunities - and much more in 2021! To discuss your organizations leader and leadership development opportunities, reach out to Director of Professional Development, Kai Degner, M.B.A., at

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Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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