What Is Leadership Training and Development?
5 Strategies for Successful Programs
According to the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, only 11% of organizations report having a strong or very strong leadership bench—a 10-year low. As the world recovers from COVID-19 disruptions and navigates new challenges like inflation, organizations need strong leaders that can drive success in times of change.
Leadership development training is crucial for reaching business goals amid uncertainties. Leadership programs have several benefits, helping your organization:
Develop internal talent, minimizing the time and expense associated with recruiting new leaders.
Improve its bottom line by boosting productivity and morale and reducing turnover.
Attract and retain talent. Prospective employees with career ambitions are more likely to prioritize employers that offer leadership opportunities and support.
Continue growing despite significant changes or business disruptions.
What is leadership training and development and what should your program include to ensure success?
What is leadership training and development?
Leadership training and development is the process of giving leaders—and prospective leaders—the skills needed to succeed in leadership positions. Leadership training and development programs usually focus on skills such as strategic thinking, change management, influencing, communication, and decision-making. However, programs may focus on specific skill sets depending on your industry or business goals.
Leadership training and development have evolved significantly in the last few years. The pandemic and other emerging challenges—such as the Great Resignation, inflation, and growing demand for digital transformation—are changing how leadership programs prioritize skills. Now, many leaders are developing abilities to adapt quickly to change and focusing on skills that foster workplace culture and employee satisfaction. A solid leadership development program will help address business challenges such as companies' need to attract and retain talent, and develop future leaders.
5 Things to include in your leadership development program
1. Aligning leadership programs with business objectives
Which leadership skills support your current business goals and challenges? Any successful leadership development program is founded on clearly defined goals and context. If you use a one-size-fits-all approach, you may end up developing boilerplate leadership skills without considering which ones support your objectives or make the most sense for navigating the current business climate. When building a program, focus on a smaller number of high-priority skills and teach them well rather than developing an abundance of standard leadership skills poorly.
2. Integrating leadership skills with front-line work
Employees are more likely to integrate and apply new skills if they practice them in real-life situations. This should be considered for leadership development programs, for example, have a capstone project that is designed to consolidate a students' learning with valuable hands-on experience to help give them real-world experience.
While self-paced online courses and instructor-led sessions are necessary for most training programs, you can combine these learning environments with task-based leadership development.
3. Coaching and mentorship
In addition to blended learning opportunities consider coaching and mentoring. Leaders need one-on-one support throughout the training process to develop critical skills. Organizations often use coaching or mentorship strategies—or both—as part of their leadership development program. Coaching is usually a professional, performance-driven approach in which a subject matter expert is hired to teach hard skills or help leaders achieve performance goals.
Mentoring is a more informal, long-term relationship that supports a greater variety of leadership skills throughout a leader’s career. For example, mentors already have extensive leadership experience and can offer advice to prospective leaders, facilitate networking, and provide feedback on soft skills development.
4. DEI requires leadership support
Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in your organization’s leadership has several benefits. It offers a broader perspective and experience level, which fosters innovation, workplace culture, and productivity. It’s also ideal for talent acquisition and retention since prospective employees care about DEI and want to see their point of view represented in company leadership. Consider making a commitment to diversity in your leadership development program by:
Recruiting women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups into leadership training programs.
Assigning mentors in these groups that share their mentees’ experience and perspective.
Integrating DEI training into leadership training.
Encouraging open dialogue so that underrepresented groups can share concerns and feedback about your leadership training program.
5. Processes for measuring success
How do you know if your leadership training and development strategy works?
Here are some ways a company can measure the success of a leadership development program, including:
Feedback from participants: Gathering feedback from participants through surveys or focus groups can provide valuable insight into the program's strengths and areas for improvement.
Improved performance: Measuring the performance of leaders before and after the program can indicate if the program has had a positive impact. This can be done through metrics such as increased productivity, improved employee engagement, and better financial results.
Retention of participants: Retention rates of participants can indicate the program's success in retaining and developing top talent.
Increased promotion rates: Tracking the number of participants who are promoted within the organization after participating in the leadership development program can demonstrate the program's impact on career advancement.
Alignment with business objectives: Evaluating the extent to which the program aligns with the company's overall business objectives and strategy can provide insight into its effectiveness in developing leaders who can drive the company's success.
Return on investment (ROI): Calculating the return on investment (ROI) of the leadership development program by comparing the costs of the program with the benefits it delivers can provide a more concrete measure of its success.
It's important to keep in mind that these metrics should be tailored to the specific goals of the leadership development program and the company. The key is to select a balanced set of metrics that provide a comprehensive view of the program's impact and success.
Investing in your organization’s leadership training and development program has myriad benefits — from attracting and retaining top talent to developing and filling a company's leadership pipeline. But not all leadership development programs will realize these benefits, especially if you use a one-size-fits-all approach. If you need assistance building a custom leadership development program, TrainingFolks can assist - reach out to us today.
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