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Business development and leadership development should go hand in hand, states Pekka Mattila, Associate Dean of Executive Education at Aalto University (@AaltoUniversity).

Dr Mattila says that leadership development has a crucial role in creating a competitive business advantage, as previous studies have shown that it improves financial performance, helps attract and retain talent, drives strategy execution, and increases success in navigating change.

For this reason, he says that leadership development shouldn’t be seen as a separate endeavour but instead as part of the overall business development.

“Not all organisations have caught up to this view. As we know, the resources in both public and private organisations tend to fluctuate over the years, and all too often it’s the HR projects that are the first to fall victim to cost-cutting measures.

“When things start to pick up again and the organisation begins to address the maintenance backlog accrued during the cost-cutting period, it must start from scratch as earlier HR projects have been put on hold or phased out altogether,” says Dr Mattila.

Smart organisations will avoid these turns of events by formulating an overarching trajectory for their leadership development objectives and activities – for this to succeed, they link leadership development to business development.

Actual growth as a leader does not take place in the classroom, Dr Mattila explains, it happens when individuals apply their new skills and concepts, they’ve learnt to every day work – therefore it is in the interest of both the individual and the organisation to combine business and leadership development.

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