A solitary tree stands tall, its branches reaching for the sky, symbolizing the leader's growth and perseverance on the path of self-improvement.

Maximizing Leadership Effectiveness with the 70-20-10 Model

Key Takeaways

  • The 70-20-10 model emphasizes that leadership and performance grow primarily through job-related experiences, advocating for a strong focus on practical, on-the-job learning.

  • Interactions with others, including mentoring, coaching, and peer feedback, account for 20% of leadership development, highlighting the value of a collaborative and feedback-rich environment.

  • Formal educational events, though only making up 10% of the model, are essential for introducing new concepts and reinforcing practical and interpersonal learning outcomes.

  • Integrating the 70-20-10 model into leadership development programs promotes a dynamic learning environment, fostering leadership skills that are crucial for navigating today's complex business landscapes.

  • Effective implementation of the 70-20-10 framework in organizational settings requires strategic planning, including experiential learning opportunities, mentorship programs, and relevant formal training to enhance leadership effectiveness and organizational performance.


In an age where leadership and performance are at the forefront of organizational success, the 70-20-10 development model stands out as a transformative strategy for nurturing effective leaders. This model, centred on the belief that a significant portion of learning occurs outside traditional educational settings, proposes a blend of on-the-job experiences, social interactions, and formal instruction as the cornerstone of professional development. By delving into the practical application of this framework, this blog aims to shed light on how organizations can harness its power to enhance leadership effectiveness and, consequently, overall performance.

At the heart of the 70-20-10 model is the principle that 70% of learning is derived from job-related experiences, emphasizing the value of real-life challenges and tasks as learning tools. This component underscores the critical role of hands-on projects and problem-solving in developing core leadership skills. Whether it’s navigating complex scenarios or leading high-stakes projects, the experiences gained in these contexts cement the practical knowledge leaders need to thrive.

Complementing this, the model suggests that 20% of learning comes from interactions with others, including coaching, mentoring, and feedback. This segment highlights the importance of a supportive network, where leaders can learn from the insights and experiences of their peers and superiors. Through collaborative discussions and social learning opportunities, leaders can broaden their perspectives and hone their skills in a more nuanced and targeted manner.

The remaining 10% of learning, according to the model, occurs through formal educational events. This acknowledges the role of structured courses, workshops, and training programs in providing leaders with foundational knowledge and novel ideas. Although it represents the smallest portion of the model, this formal instruction is crucial in introducing new concepts and theories that leaders can then explore and apply in their roles.

Integrating the 70-20-10 development framework into an organization's leadership development strategy can have profound implications for performance. By prioritizing experiential learning, organizations encourage leaders to engage actively with their roles, applying and experimenting with new ideas in real-world settings. Similarly, fostering a culture of mentoring and feedback provides leaders with the social support necessary for personal and professional growth. Finally, investing in formal education ensures that leaders remain at the forefront of industry trends and innovations.

To effectively implement this model, organizations can take several strategic steps. Creating opportunities for experiential learning, such as assigning leaders to challenging projects or cross-functional teams, allows them to learn by doing. Building a mentoring culture and facilitating regular feedback sessions both support the model's emphasis on learning from others. Lastly, by selecting relevant and high-quality formal learning programs, organizations can ensure that their leaders continually adapt and grow in their roles.

In essence, the 70-20-10 development framework offers a holistic approach to leadership development that aligns with how adults naturally learn and grow. Through a carefully balanced mix of practical experiences, social interactions, and formal training, organizations can cultivate leaders who are not only skilled and knowledgeable but also adaptable and equipped to navigate the complexities of today’s business environment. By embracing this model, organizations can foster a dynamic and continuous learning culture, driving performance improvements and ensuring long-term success.

Understanding the 70-20-10 Model and Its Relevance to Leadership

Understanding the 70-20-10 model and its relevance to effective leadership practices is crucial for those looking to harness the full potential of their teams and organisations. At its core, this model suggests that a substantial portion of professional learning occurs in a hands-on capacity, further enriched by personal interactions and a smaller portion from formal educational settings. Let's explore how each component comes into play:

  • 70% from job-related experiences: This highlights the significance of on-the-job learning through tackling real-life challenges, tasks, and problem-solving. It underscores the idea that the complexities encountered in day-to-day operations serve as a valuable learning tool, cultivating a deeper understanding and mastery of skills.

  • 20% from interactions with others: This segment underlines the importance of social learning, mentoring, coaching, and utilizing feedback. Learning from peers and leaders through observation, discussion, and collaboration plays a pivotal role in personal and professional development.

  • 10% from formal educational events: This recognizes the contributions of structured courses, seminars, and training programs to a person's growth. While this represents the smallest portion, it is nonetheless vital, providing foundational knowledge and new perspectives that complement experiential and interpersonal learning.

The intuitive link between the 70-20-10 development framework and leadership effectiveness boils down to the idea that the most impactful learning for leaders occurs while on the job. It stretches beyond traditional learning arrangements, pushing leaders to engage deeply with their roles, challenge their understanding, and apply new insights in a practical setting. This approach fosters a dynamic learning environment where leaders can develop resilience, adaptability, and a nuanced understanding of their teams and business landscapes.

By integrating the 70-20-10 model into leadership development strategies, organisations can create more robust platforms for growth. This blend of experiential learning, social interactions, and formal training equips leaders not only with the technical skills required for their positions but also with the soft skills crucial for motivating teams, navigating challenges, and driving performance.

In application, the 70-20-10 model encourages a shift in perspective on how skills are developed and honed. For effective implementation, here are strategic measures organisations can adopt:

  • Emphasize experiential learning through role-plays, stretch assignments, and shadowing opportunities.

  • Foster a culture of feedback and coaching, encouraging leaders to seek and provide constructive input.

  • Leverage formal training sessions to introduce new concepts and theories that leaders can explore further in practical contexts.

In essence, the 70-20-10 model serves as a blueprint for designing leadership development programmes that are not only comprehensive but also deeply integrated with the realities of working life. This approach not only accelerates leadership effectiveness but also significantly impacts organisational performance, creating a vibrant learning ecosystem where leaders are continually evolving, adapting, and contributing to their fullest potential.

The Practical Application of the 70-20-10 Model in Developing Effective Leaders

In the realm of leadership development, the practical application of the 70-20-10 model stands as a transformative strategy that brings a nuanced understanding to the table. Here's how organizations can seamlessly integrate this framework to elevate their leadership effectiveness:

  • Offer Real-Life Challenges: Leaders thrive when confronted with scenarios requiring innovative problem-solving and decision-making. Encouraging them to navigate these situations enhances their learning, aligning with the 70% component of the model which emphasizes job-related experiences.

  • Promote Mentoring and Coaching: Pairing emerging leaders with experienced mentors or providing access to coaching sessions facilitates invaluable interactions, representing the 20% of learning through social engagement. This exposure not only sharpens their skills but also broadens their perspectives.

  • Utilize Structured Learning Opportunities: Despite constituting just 10% of the model, formal education — through workshops, seminars, and online courses — remains important. It introduces leaders to novel concepts and theories, which they can then apply and experiment with in their daily roles.

The essence of the 70-20-10 development strategy lies in its holistic view of learning, where real-world experience, guidance from others, and theoretical knowledge converge to form a well-rounded leader. By focusing on these elements, organizations can create a fertile ground for leadership growth, directly influencing their overall performance and success.

To ensure a smooth incorporation of the 70-20-10 model, companies can adopt the following steps:

  • Structuring roles and responsibilities in a manner that naturally integrates challenging projects and tasks, enabling leaders to learn through doing.

  • Establishing a robust support system of mentors and coaches who can provide timely feedback and advice, enhancing the social aspect of learning.

  • Continuously investing in high-quality, relevant formal training that complements and reinforces the learning from experiences and interactions.

This approach not only accelerates the development of effective leaders but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and learning within the organization. Leaders become adept at navigating complex challenges, driving innovation, and inspiring their teams towards achieving collective goals.

Implementing the 70-20-10 model with intent and careful planning allows for a dynamic shift in how leadership capabilities are nurtured and advanced. It underscores the importance of a diverse learning environment, where every challenge is an opportunity to grow, every interaction is a lesson, and every formal educational event is a building block towards becoming an effective leader.

Through practical application, the 70-20-10 development framework emerges not just as a method, but as a philosophy that champions experiential learning, mentorship, and continuous education as foundational to leadership excellence. This powerful blend places organizations on a path to heightened performance, enhanced adaptability, and ultimately, sustained success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Strategies for Implementing the 70-20-10 Framework in Organizational Settings

To smoothly incorporate the 70-20-10 development model into an organization, it’s crucial to adopt a thoughtful approach that aligns with the essence of this framework. Here’s how to bring this model to life in a professional setting, enhancing leadership effectiveness and overall performance.

Creating opportunities for hands-on experience is pivotal. Assigning leaders to spearhead projects that push them out of their comfort zones encourages learning through real-life challenges. This reflects the model's emphasis on acquiring 70% of knowledge from job-related experiences. For instance, a manager might handle a cross-departmental project to develop new strategies, fostering skills in teamwork, innovation, and project management.

Encouraging social learning through mentorship and collaboration is another key strategy. Setting up mentorship programs where seasoned leaders guide emerging ones facilitate the 20% of learning derived from interactions. Similarly, promoting team meetings where staff can share insights and challenges supports this aspect of the development model. This approach not only aids in skill enhancement but also nurtures a supportive culture that values shared learning.

Investing in formal training and education forms the foundational 10% of the model. Organizations should carefully select workshops and seminars that are relevant and forward-thinking. Additionally, offering access to online courses allows leaders to explore new knowledge areas at their own pace. This blend of formal learning opportunities ensures that leaders are well-versed in the latest theories and practices, which they can then apply in a practical context.

To make these strategies effective, certain steps can be undertaken:

  • Develop a Plan for Experiential Learning:Identify opportunities within the organization where leaders can learn by doing. This might include leading new initiatives or being part of cross-functional teams.

  • Build a Mentoring Culture:Encourage experienced leaders to share their knowledge and experiences. Creating formal mentorship programs or encouraging informal mentoring relationships helps in achieving this.

  • Select Relevant Formal Learning Programs:Choose programs that align with the organization's goals and the individual's career path. Ensuring that the content is applicable and can be put into practice enhances its value.

  • Leverage Technology:Use learning management systems (LMS) to track progress, manage content, and facilitate discussions. This can support all aspects of the 70-20-10 model by providing a platform for experiential learning projects, enabling social learning through forums and webinars, and delivering formal educational content.

  • Foster a Learning Environment:Cultivate a culture that values continuous learning and development. This includes recognizing and rewarding efforts to learn and grow, and providing time and resources for learning activities.

  • Seek Feedback and Adjust:Regularly gather feedback from leaders on their learning experiences. Use this feedback to refine and enhance the learning and development programs.

Implementing the 70-20-10 development framework with these strategies not only nurtures effective leadership but also propels organizational performance to new heights. It leverages the natural way adults learn, blending the practical application of knowledge with social interactions and formal education. This dynamic approach to development ensures leaders are well-equipped to meet current and future challenges, driving success in an ever-evolving business environment. Through thoughtful integration of the 70-20-10 model, organizations can forge a path to excellence, marked by skilled leaders and a culture of continuous improvement and performance optimization.


In concluding our exploration of the 70-20-10 development model and its profound impact on leadership effectiveness and organizational performance, it is clear that this approach is pivotal in sculpting leaders who are not only equipped to navigate the complexities of their roles but are also adept at driving results. This model, which posits that a significant majority of learning comes from on-the-job experiences, supplemented by interactions with others and formal education, serves as a guide for organizations striving to foster capable and adaptable leaders.

The essence of integrating the 70-20-10 development framework into leadership training programs lies in its ability to mirror the natural learning process, thereby enhancing the overall learning experience. By emphasizing real-world challenges, encouraging mentoring and coaching, and incorporating formal education, this model ensures that leaders gain practical knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and a deeper understanding of their industry. These elements are crucial in equipping leaders with the skills necessary to inspire their teams and propel organizational goals.

Practical application of the 70-20-10 model involves creating avenues for experiential learning, such as assigning leaders to manage projects that push their boundaries, thereby promoting growth through firsthand experience. Furthermore, by fostering a culture of mentorship and collaboration, organizations can enhance the social learning aspect, allowing leaders to benefit from the wisdom and experience of their peers and mentors. Complementing these with carefully selected formal training ensures that leaders have a well-rounded foundation of knowledge to draw upon.

For an organization to thrive in today’s competitive landscape, it requires leaders who are not only technically proficient but also possess the soft skills needed to motivate and guide their teams effectively. The 70-20-10 model addresses this need by advocating for a holistic approach to leadership development, one that blends practical experience with interpersonal learning and formal education. By following this model, organizations can cultivate a leadership cadre that is proficient, insightful, and resilient.

Implementing the 70-20-10 framework requires thoughtful planning and commitment. It starts with identifying opportunities for leaders to engage in meaningful work experiences, creating a supportive mentoring ecosystem, and investing in relevant training programs. This effort underscores the significance of viewing leadership development as a continuous journey, one that is integral to long-term organizational success.

In essence, the 70-20-10 development model transcends traditional learning paradigms, offering a more dynamic and effective approach to leadership development. It aligns with the understanding that leadership skills are honed through a combination of experiences, relationships, and education. As organizations look to navigate the complexities of the modern business environment, embracing this holistic model of development can pave the way for creating leaders who not only excel in their roles but also drive meaningful performance outcomes. Through this strategic focus on leadership development, organizations can ensure their future resilience and success, characterized by a workforce that is agile, innovative, and ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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