Leadership Development: A Case Study from Siemens
Leadership Development: A Case Study from Siemens
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In today's global atmosphere, the global corporation has to align leadership priorities is a way that will develop global leaders that can surpass boundaries and meet over corporate goals.  These leaders may be diverse in culture and function, but they need to be alike when aligning with company visions and goals.  One way to ensure that leaders align properly with the corporation once they are actively in position is to provide a comprehensive leadership development program designed to emerge the ideal leadership personnel to match the company's mission.  This post will provide an overview of the leadership development program currently in implementation at Siemens AG, a global engineering firm focusing on innovation and sustainability.

Overview of Siemens Leadership

     There are a lot of considerations to be made when trying to form a leadership development program.  Once main consideration has to do with the development style that will be of focus during implementation of the program (Day & Antonakis, ch4, 2012).  These development styles need to take into consideration factors that relate to the underlying traits and cognitions of the individual, the leadership goals of the firm, and the particular interaction of leadership that will be administered during service at the company (ch4, 2012).  Siemens AG administers a very comprehensive leadership program in which leadership personnel decide what function of the company they are most acquainted to, and then they undergo at least 2 years' worth of training on their path into full employed leadership (Siemens, 2015).   Leaders are expected to work on the job while they complete their leadership training, and then they are expected to act under a shared leadership style, in a transformative atmosphere, once they have earned their leadership position.

Action Learning


 The main style of leadership administration witnessed through study of Siemens' leadership program displays those characteristics of the action leader development theory.  According to Marquaert (2000), one major attribute of the action learning theory is that the leader gets to practice aspects of the job while completing the program.  This practice allows the leader to engage in stress management practices during the leadership experience that can be re-calibrated for more efficient practice once the leadership development stage is over.  Leonard & Lang (2010) further emphasize this ideal and then go on the explain the importance of the mentor during the action leadership experience.  This mentor provides the immediate advantage of feedback while serving as a moral example to the learner (2010).  According to Leonard & Lang (2010), this moral role model is imperative as the leader engages in open practice and finalizes the development experience with a working project that provides ample benefit to the company.

     The action learning theory of leadership development can be administered in multiple atmospheres over multiple time frames.  In a case study presented by Rayner et al (2002), nursing staff at a hospital were able to enhance leadership skills during administration of duties by attending a 6-month workshop style learning program.  They participants engaged in the creation of a leadership plan for the nursing units at the hospital at the finalization of the program (2002).  The program proved to be essential to the development of the nurse leadership style as it allowed hands on administration of the leadership skills and real advice from personnel that had already taken on the leadership role at the hospital (2002).  Marquaert (2000) shows how various organizations, such as Boeing, GM, and General Electric company are able to administer leadership development programs to their employees over the course of a series of month, with some lasting over the course of a year or more.  Some programs represented by Leonard & Lang (2010) took sometimes the span of a couple of years to complete.  The leadership programs at Siemens (2015) last for a minimum of two years.

Selection, Optimization, and Compensation


     One distinct quality of Siemen's (2015) leadership program is that employees are required to have experience already attending a college program overseas, or working in field with an overseas accessible organization.  The leadership programs have the requirement of leaders developing their leadership skills overseas for either one term of the program, or for the entire duration of the program or some time in between, depending on which leadership program is chosen (Siemens, 2015).  According to Bajor & Baltes (p 350, 2003), one major aspect of goal selection has to do with the setting of goals that require a sacrifice, such as leaving ones residential country in order to attain leadership skills during residency another.  A second goal selection category has to do with commitment of resources, like attending the university or perfecting a hobby (p 350, 2003).  The selection of this multifaceted set of goals enhances ones desire to actually complete the goal because there are sacrifices connected to resources.

     In studies of this selection, optimization, and compensation style of development, researchers look to find if the outcome actually increases the leaders ability to manage.  According to Wiese et al (2000), the selection process of this leadership theory is not as important as the optimization and compensation aspects.  These two aspects allow the leader to also transcend the work borders and administer their leadership skills within the confines of the partnership of work and family and within the confines of the family itself (2000).  However, Bajor & Baltes (2003) find that during the early stages of leadership  development, the compensatory stages are not as important as the selection and optimization role.  This may have to do with motivation and preparation of the ability to develop leadership skills throughout the program.  Leaders at Siemens AG (2015) are required to first choose a program that matches their skills, abilities and their interests regarding level of international involvement and areas of specialty.  These aspects will allow the applicant the ability to commit to the program and compensate for errors in their goal attainment later on, during full program administration.


     Compensatory action requires the future leader to be able to assess their current levels of optimization towards their goal attainment and to be able to re-adjust in order to match inefficiencies (Day &Antonakis, 2012).  In an article regarding self-regulation and the legitimacy of authentic leadership styles, Nyberg & Sevingson (2014) are able to show how leaders may not automatically know what the leader is, or what personality aspects are supposed to constitute the real leader.  In this respect, the leader is required to re-adjust their representations and connotations of the self to match what is discovered regarding the true aspects of what a leader is (2014).  Many times, this leadership adjustment requires the use of constant self-assessment and feedback from a mentor (Moss et al, 2009).  At Siemens (2015), all of the leadership personnel are given opportunities for constant feedback and readjustment as they make their journey from development into then full employment shared leadership floor. 

Leadership Deliberation


    Once a leader become fully employed at Siemens, they are required to exercise a shared leadership atmosphere in which one leader is required to take initiative to exercise an individual sense of leadership towards another, and the other is equally as responsible to exercise a leadership attitude in response.  One developmental skill used to enact this sort of leadership style is that of deliberate leadership (Day &Antonakis, 2012).   In an article by Ken Kies (2015) it is illustrated how a deliberate leader will be entirely self-aware, and they will act upon a leadership style by taking into account that self-awareness while weighing it against their own cognitive understanding of a leader.  This will sometimes entail an objective style of leadership and at other times it will entail an impressive style of leadership. 

     According to Colvin (2008), this deliberate practice of leadership is enhanced by taking that self-awareness to a level in which the purposefully practice of leadership will enact skills that are not easy to practice, but that are not redundant nor too complicated for the individual to attain.  Those skills are regularly enhanced so that they become complacent and a new set of advanced skills are deliberated (2008).  This becomes a constant activity taking up 5 hours a days, in smaller increments, under a system of constant improvement (2008).  Siemens (2015) exercises their development program as if a university with constant re-assessment and the evaluation and feedback of a static mentor throughout the program to allow each employee the ability to self-attain their deliberated leadership skills.


     The compilation of these different leadership development styles transform to create an AVIRA model in which management can weigh aspects of the leadership development program in order to determine an action plan for how the learner employee can put leadership skills into action for the company.  For Siemens AG (2015) the leader begins with an awareness of programs available at the firm, and one's own chosen development plan.  The leader then creates a vision through established goals related to time requirements, course offerings and skills attainment that are a part of the plan.  They are also enlisting in goals related to the location of plan administration, which could be overseas.  The leader then reaches a level of imagination through on-the-job problem solving related to skills obtained, and the completion of required learning projects that directly impact the firm through innovation and the exercise of leadership skills.  The employee becomes responsible for obtaining feedback regarding progress through the program and the ability to self-adjust and deliberately practice new skills to match determined needs.  The leader is required to complete the program in a specified time frame.  The leader then obtains the element of action by completing a real actionable project for the firm at the completion of the program and obtain a full employment position with the firm related to the skills attained during the leadership development.

 Here is a copy of the AVIRA model created in NovaMind  mindmapping software: ( found at https://www.novamind.com/cloud/doc/4450?nm_referrer=15688  )



Bajor, Janice K., and Baltes, Boris B. (2003). The relationship between selection optimization with compensation, conscientiousness, motivation, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 63, Issue 3, December 2003, Pages 347-367, ISSN 0001-8791, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00035-0.

Colvin, G. (2008). Deliberate practice.  Leadership Excellence, 25(11), 3-4. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/204510220?accountid=27965

Day, David V., Antonakis, John. (2012). The Nature of Leadership, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, Ca, Sage Publications Inc. ISBN: 978-1-4129-8020-3.

Keis, K. (2015). Deliberate leadership.  Leadership Excellence, 32(1), 19-20. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/1648981478?accountid=27965

Leonard, H. Skipton and Lang, Fred. (2010). Leadership Development via Action Learning. Advances in Developing Human Resources April 2010 12: 225-240, doi:10.1177/1523422310367800  http://adh.sagepub.com.library.capella.edu/cgi/content/long/12/2/225

Marquardt, M. J. (2000). Action learning and leadership.  The Learning Organization, 7(5), 233-240. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/215659963?accountid=27965

Nyberg, Daniel and Sveningsson, Stefan. (2014). Paradoxes of authentic leadership: Leader identity struggles. Leadership November 2014 10: 437-455,  doi:10.1177/1742715013504425  http://lea.sagepub.com.library.capella.edu/cgi/content/long/10/4/437

Siemens. (2015).  Jobs & Careers. Siemens Corporation. Retrieved from:http://www.usa.siemens.com/en/jobs_careers.htm

Simon A. Moss, Nicki Dowling, John Callanan, Towards an integrated model of leadership and self regulation, The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2009, Pages 162-176, ISSN 1048-9843,http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.01.005.

Rayner, D., Chisholm, H., & Appleby, H. (2002). Developing leadership through action learning.  Nursing Standard, 16(29), 37-9. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/219819915?accountid=27965

Wiese, Bettina S., Freund, Alexandra M., and Baltes, Paul B. (2000). Selection, Optimization, and Compensation: An Action-Related Approach to Work and Partnership. Journal of Vocational Behavior,Volume 57, Issue 3, December 2000, Pages 273-300, ISSN 0001-8791, http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jvbe.2000.1752.



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