Impacting Our Own Leadership Capabilities

70-20-10. Impacting our own leadership capabilities

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Impacting our own leadership capabilities

Whether it’s emulating an inspirational boss, observing and learning from others, or seeking 360-degree feedback from the team, it seems that when leaders are looking to improve their own capabilities, it’s informal methods that are most popular.

Our own research into leadership within the automotive industry revealed that job-related experiences definitely have more of an impact than formal learning. When questioned as to what impacted their leadership capabilities most positively, respondents mentioned everything from exposure to senior managers in other industries through to their own parents. In fact, only 20% quoted formal management or leadership training as being influential to their development.

The 70-20-10 model

One concept that is gathering pace as a learning approach is the 70-20-10 model. A potentially powerful programme, at its heart is the split between different types of learning that gives the model its name and was actually created back in the 80’s by researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership.

The premise is that learning is most beneficial when split by:

70% being ‘on the job’ or learning by experience. This could include working on challenging assignments, either related to their role or outside of their usual remit

20% ‘near the job’ or learning from others. Examples include networking, web-based research, and mentoring

Just 10% being ‘off the job’, for example, formal training courses.

The belief that hands-on experience is most beneficial stems from the way it enables leaders to discover and refine job-related skills, improve decision making and interact with other influential people within their everyday work lives. An important element of this is receiving critical feedback on performance and learning from errors made along the way. In the 20% brackets, encouragement and feedback are the prime benefits.

The 70% is too often left to chance

Back in 2014, Robert Demare of DHL wrote about his experiences of embracing the 70-20-10 concept within his organisation. What he found is that all too often, the critical 70% is somewhat left to chance.

Companies tend to focus on the more tangible and more easily arranged 20% and 10% elements, assuming the 70% will happen naturally. Unfortunately, this can mean that leaders are not getting the right experiences to help them grow and gain new skills. He maintains that the 70% must be a deliberate exercise, where experiences are carefully chosen and planned to take the individual outside of their comfort zone.


Have you had experience of adopting 70-20-10 – or would you like to explore the benefits further? If so give us a call.


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