Blog February 06, 2020

#Part 2: Five steps to creating an effective leadership development programme

Many organisations today agree that leadership development is needed. As a matter of fact, 94 per cent of all learning organisations are planning to increase or at least maintain their current investment in leadership training.

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This comes as no surprise, considering the positive returns an organisation receives from leadership training: higher retention rates, increased employee engagement and productivity, better decision making skills, reduced costs, higher profits… The list goes on.

But for training efforts to be effective in the long run, organisations must take a proactive approach to ensure that it’s prioritised in their employees’ day-to-day responsibilities. Simply implementing training won’t bring about the results desired.

That involves fostering the right environment for training to be effective and instilling an accepting and welcoming attitude across all roles and responsibilities within the company.

For a deeper look, here are five steps to create the ideal conditions for leadership programmes to work and for your organisation to thrive.

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1. Involve top management

One of the most crucial factors behind a successful leadership development programme is having sponsors and supporters at the highest level. This can take many different forms; from having the CEO visibly support the roll-out to immediate managers taking the time to- get involved and join the programme.

It’s also important to understand that while a leadership programme trains skills, its long term objective is to bring about a change in mindset within the organisation, which is needed for proper transformation.

Seeing leaders play an active role in the programme serves as a massive motivation for participants. Without the support and example from the top management team, leadership development won’t work.

2. Assess leadership needs

The next step would be to define your organisation’s leadership needs. And to do that, gaps must be identified. Consider the skills and competencies that are lacking and what sort of attitudes, mindsets and behaviours are required.

Think about how this aligns with your company’s goals and how these gaps can jeopardise the fulfilment of these objectives. Your leadership development programme should aim to address and solve these problems.

"Leadership takes place within a context, which influences what leadership competencies and behaviours are helpful and what aren't. Leadership development programmes should be designed to build context-specific, success-critical leadership capabilities."

Benjamin Häusler, Training Consultant

3. Find the right participants

Most companies identify potential leaders by turning to their best-performing employees. But this may not necessarily be the best way ⁠— excellence in an area of work does not always equate to leadership skills.

When choosing participants for a leadership development programme, look beyond your top performers. Suss out workers with excellent communication skills, embrace failure as part of the learning journey, and are always eager to learn more.

Creating leadership opportunities can help to identify those with potential. Consider intensifying your mentoring or job rotation efforts that introduce employees to an environment that requires increased collaborations and interactions and allowing lower management to take the reins when upper management is away.

4. Set KPIs to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme

Define the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you will be using to measure the effectiveness and success of the leadership development programme prior to its launch.

Indicators such as higher retention rates, increased employee engagement, higher productivity, and increase in sales are often good signs that the programme has been effective.

Also consider gathering direct feedback from the participants to get a feel of how they think it’s helped them. This would also serve as constructive criticism for your programme.

5. Hire a training provider that best fits your needs

Choosing the right partner for developing and rolling out your specific leadership programme is an important criteria for its success.

When selecting an external provider, consider the following questions:

• Do they have experience with your industry and understand your specific challenges?
• Are they ready to offer a pilot training?
• Do they provide customised training programmes tailored to your organisation’s specific needs?
• Are they ready to collaborate with you closely to design the programme and step into your business world?
• What is their training approach like? How do they guarantee impact?
• What is their core approach? Do they offer face-to-face training, online learning, or blended training?

These are key questions to determine whether a training company is a good fit for your organisation. For more, download our free guide on how to choose a top training company.

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Having the right mindset

Perhaps the key to ensuring the success of your leadership development programme is understanding that it is a long-term learning journey and not a one-off training session.

Participants absorb learning more effectively when it’s part of a longer development path that constantly reiterates the programme’s learning points so that they are able to put what they’ve learnt into practice in their day-to-day work.

That said, leadership programmes won’t be as effective if the organisation doesn’t follow through, and organisations must make sure to incorporate these learnings and teachings in their working structure.

This can be done in various ways, from incorporating them into the appraisal process, setting time aside to discuss behaviour, or even encouraging participants to give something back by organising learning sessions themselves to share what they’ve learnt or even spread their knowledge to educate and influence others.

“It’s best if the programme is part of a journey where all the development initiatives are linked in a logical and modular way.”

Lidi van Dessel, training consultant at Krauthammer

If you are looking for help with your leadership development programme, you may contact us directly here.

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