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Maturity Models for Leadership Risk Mitigation, Coaching, and Development - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership


December 8, 2019

John Barker is a Chicago-area management consultant specializing in innovation; and corporate strategy, product and market strategy & development. He is affiliated with the Bonar Institute

Idea: Maturity models are a powerful visual aid for all leadership development stakeholders to benchmark leadership development progress for organizations and the individuals that they employ.

My Experience with Maturity Models

Maturity models have helped me create and roll out enterprise-wide innovation initiatives and an individual leadership development program for me as part of an academic master’s degree program in regulatory compliance. I will begin with a brief description of the visual component of maturity models, and later describe the more detailed analytical and prescriptive components.

A maturity model is a graphical and prescriptive tool that organizations have been using for decades to set, and track progress against, goals and processes that apply to entire enterprises – including: lines of business, individual business units, and individual employees. Examples of maturity goals include analytics and “big data”, artificial intelligence, block chain adoption, customer experience, leadership development, industry 4.0 readiness, innovation initiatives, knowledge management, compliance programs, strategic management, sustainability, and more. As a quick search in Google or Bing images reveals, my idea for using maturity models for leadership development is not new.

Visual Representation of a Leadership Maturity Model

Below is the visual representation of my five-month personal leadership maturity model for future compliance officers. Note that the time interval for any model can be days, weeks, months, quarters, years, or any relevant time interval. For my model, I chose the “Basic Process” in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint’s SmartArt to preserve space in this article. A more common format, however, is the “Step up Process,” which presents the graphic as a series of steps in a staircase, in which the final step being the highest. A quick search in Google or Bing images illustrates multiple relevant visualized maturity models. My suggestion is to opt for simplicity in graphics and choice of software.

Leadership Maturity Model for Future Compliance Officers

Leadership Maturity Model

Visual representations of maturity models have many practical uses. Publicly-held companies cite them in regulatory filings and shareholder presentations. Maturity models also serve as discussion anchors in presentations to board members, employees, and customers. In my suggested context, I recommend placing the visual representation of a leadership maturity initiative in a personalized leadership development plan within a Microsoft Word document, followed by the analytical and prescriptive details for each step in the initiative. This way, leaders can quickly copy and paste the visual representation for use in a PowerPoint and present more detail from the Word document as needed.

Analytical and Prescriptive Components

The visual component of a maturity model is just the beginning. In a personalized leadership development plan, I recommend using each of the steps in the model as headings followed by bullet points or more detailed text as needed. For example, a colleague and I used a visualized innovation initiative maturity model at the beginning of a 25-slide PowerPoint for board members and C- and VP-level leaders in a global enterprise. My personal visualized leadership development initiative was the first discussion point in a Word document containing more details for each initiative.

Based on my experience and formal training in leadership, I believe that the Bonar Institute is the kind of dynamic professional services organization that will successfully use leadership maturity models to assist its clients.

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