Put simply. Organisations that prioritise the growth and development of their leaders, either existing or emerging, are on the right path to maximising the human potential in their business. Having the right talent in leadership roles and unlocking their true potential, is key to ensuring long-term organisational growth and success.
So why then do many leadership development programs fail to produce results? How do you craft a program that is worthwhile and makes a meaningful impact?
Here are some tips and insights from our team of experts that can help your leadership development program achieve greater results.
What Is A Leadership Development Program
Leadership development is a broad topic used to describe any structured, planned activity or program that seeks to widen the capability of individuals to perform in leadership roles.
Our collective experience of the past few years is an example of how much and how quickly, change can happen.
Organisations that are looking to thrive, let alone survive, need leaders with the right skills to lead and inspire people, manage uncertainty and unpredictability, while uncovering new opportunities and executing strategy amid constant change.
What Are The Benefits Of A Leadership Development Program
There’s an obvious organisational impact from having effective leaders – productivity and performance gains, ability to successfully execute strategy, building agility and readiness to navigate change.
Thinking more holistically, the absence of a leadership development program means your organisation likely has no agreed and widely communicated strategy around what ‘good’ leadership looks like, and what needs to be done to full gaps and build capability within your business. This has a significant impact both operationally and culturally.
As an example, you may find that you continue to reward performance with advancement, without truly assessing a person’s ability to lead.
In today’s competitive labour market, job seekers are increasingly looking for opportunities where professional development and advancement are prioritised. Your ability to attract and retain top talent will be greatly improved if building capability is a core component of your employee value proposition.
If the future of an organisation depends on effective leadership, how do you create a leadership development program that builds stronger, future-ready leaders?
How To Create A Leadership Development Program
It’s Designed To Support Strategy
Good leadership development programs (LDP) are designed around an organisation’s short- and long-term strategic goals. An LDP that results in both organisational and individual impact are worthwhile outcomes, so long as they support corporate strategy.
Ask yourself, what is the purpose of your LDP? What types of skills and leadership does your organisation need for the future? Where are the leadership gaps? What matters most to your organisation?
It’s highly likely that what you will uncover is the need to build ‘soft’ skills within your business. It is generally agreed that today’s leaders require a combination of technical capability and soft skills to be effective in their role.
Soft or interpersonal skills are those personable attributes that enable people to thrive in their role, for example, communication and listening skills, time management, critical thinking and problem solving. Empathy in particular is an in-demand leadership trait that is often seen lacking in leaders who obtained their position primarily due to technical capability. The recent debate around the shortfalls of Auckland’s mayor is a topical reminder of the necessity of empathetic leadership in time of crisis.
Redefine Who Is A ‘Leader’
Traditionally, leadership development programs were focussed on senior management and therefore weren’t scalable to the wider organisation. While the continuous development of existing leaders is important, creating a pipeline of talent and redefining who you view as leaders, has seen organisations broaden their LDP efforts to encompass all levels from board directors, through to chief executives, existing senior leaders and emerging leaders or high potentials.
Remember that leadership is not only implied by role or title. You may need to dig deeper. For example, if ideas and innovation in your business are being driven by your frontline staff, are you also equipping them with the skills to lead effectively?
If your LDP is strongly linked to your corporate strategy, then the right program participants will be those who need to be developed to assist in executing that strategy.
Structured Yet Bespoke
A good leadership development program requires a framework including clear goals and outcomes, as well as measures of success. Monitoring the results of a LDP should not be restricted to the experience of the participant. For example, what are their development goals and are they achieving them? Look more broadly in terms of individual impact.
For existing leaders, how are their team performing, is there movement in employee engagement? For emerging leaders or high potentials, monitor their career progression – are they advancing at the right rate? And importantly, is there an organisational impact?
What we know from working with existing and emerging leaders is that growth and development is unique to the individual and therefore requires a personalised approach that is flexible and experiential. Behavioural change is often more likely to occur when learning happens alongside experiences. This is not about following a set curriculum but rather using a combination of learning options for example coaching, leader to leader development, on the job learning, mentoring and peer learning. This is ‘development’ not ‘training’.
Leadership is a fundamental requirement at all levels of an organisation. With the right leaders your business will be better prepared for current and future goals and challenges.
What are you doing to help your people reach their potential?
Regardless of whether you are looking to freshen your leadership approach, or, grow tomorrow’s leaders, Decipher Group can help take your LDP to the next level.
We work with businesses and individuals to create tailored professional development plans that equip existing and emerging leaders with the tools to help them best lead their teams and organisations. Let’s talk.
The Decipher Team
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People Also Ask
A short Q&A with our team on related questions that people commonly search for on Google.
Are leadership development programs effective?
Companies with highly developed leadership programs outperform their competitors. Any effort to build capability and prioritise the professional development of current or future leaders has multiple benefits for both an organisation and individual. Organisations are making considerable investments in developing their leaders with the intent of improving the quality of leadership within their organisation. It is important to continually assess the effectiveness of these activities to ensure they are meeting an organisation’s strategic needs.
Why do leadership development programs fail?
At an organisational level, the factors most likely to affect the success of a leadership development program are a broad commitment to learning and development; a program that supports the execution of business strategy; tailored experiences relevant to the individual; and the selection of the right participants. For the individual, the effectiveness of a leadership development program starts by having clear goals and a vision for what success looks like for your career journey.
How much should you be spending on leadership development programs?
People often ask, how much do companies spend on leadership development programs? There is no set formula for calculating how much to spend on leadership development programs. It all comes down to organisational and individual needs and goals. It is however worth reviewing where your spending is being allocated – what type of leaders are receiving the lowest per-person share of leadership development funding and what impact is this having on the success of your program?