Episode 140: The Three Key Ingredients for Sustainable Leadership Excellence

The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Podcast

Published: July 10, 2024


In this episode of “90th Percentile,” co-hosts Jack Zenger and BreAnne Okoren take a culinary approach to discussing effective leadership development. They compare the essentials of a good family meal to the key components of a successful leadership development plan. Just as family meals become staples due to their simplicity and consistent outcomes, leadership development should be straightforward and yield predictable, positive results.

Key Ingredients of Leadership Development

  • Tangible Outcomes: Leadership development should lead to observable, positive behaviors across the organization.
  • Simplicity: Simple solutions are often more effective. Jack compares this to the NY Times’ popular three-ingredient artisan bread recipe.

The Three Ingredients of Effective Leadership Development

  • Learning Methodology: Must be capable of changing behavior. Options include 360-degree feedback, simulations, action learning projects, mentoring/coaching, deliberate rotational assignments, and participation in task forces/SWAT teams.
  • Significant Participation: Engaging a substantial portion of the leadership team ensures widespread improvement and a contagious effect of positive behavior.
  • Sustained Implementation: Long-term commitment is crucial. Success stories from a large insurance firm and a prestigious Ivy League university highlight the transformative impact of sustained leadership development over multiple years.

Case Studies

  • Large Insurance Firm: Over nine years, participants’ leadership effectiveness scores improved significantly, indicating the pervasive, contagious effect of developed leaders.
  • Ivy League University: Over sixteen years, consistent improvement in leadership effectiveness scores was observed, showcasing the long-term benefits of a sustained development plan.

Connect with Jack Zenger


Zenger Folkman hosts an exclusive live webinar monthly, where you can meet Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman and talk about their latest leadership development research. Find out more information and register here.