Get the Most Out of Your Leadership Development Program

It has become crystal clear that organizations need to offer superior leadership development if they want to compete in the modern workforce. The growing talent shortage makes it imperative that you retain current employees and promote from within. Additionally, not many organizations actually take the time to examine and assess incoming leadership skills. Consequently, leaders sometimes don’t walk the talk which can lead to a variety of unpleasant outcomes.

There are few better ways to improve employee satisfaction and retention than building strong leaders.  Leaders who are adept at communication, providing feedback and exhibiting values hit the sweet spot with new and existing hires.

What Can Leadership Development Accomplish?

  • Improve bottom-line financial performance: Superior Human Capital Management is a powerful predictor of an organizations ability to outperform its competition.
  • Attract and retain talent: Employee retention is 20 times greater at companies with a focus on leadership development. That is a huge difference!
  • Increase organizational agility and success in navigating change: When facing an unpredictable business environment, 86 percent of companies with strategic leadership development programs can respond rapidly, compared with 52 percent off companies with less mature leadership programs.

Did those points catch your attention? Well they should. Results clearly show that creating a program to help employees become better leaders has the potential to be extremely effective at improving the entirety of an organization if executed properly.

Over 80 percent of organizations say that it is important to develop leaders at all levels, yet only 5 percent have actually done so. The reason for the disconnect between belief and actions comes from the fact that many leaders don’t know where to start.

However, there are some actionable tips and tricks that can help any organization put together their own leadership development program.

The first thing to know is that there are many leadership development options out there ranging from the simple to complex. When implementing a leadership development program, pick a model and mold it to better fit the individual organization’s needs. One example of a proven model is the Harvard Business Review’s “Three Buckets” model. This model makes categorizing leadership traits clear, as you separate the abilities of your employees into three buckets; personal development, team leadership and execution leadership. Using this model, you can assess how well leaders exhibit your leadership values and how then to address any leadership gaps.


Tips and Tricks to Get Your Development Program Moving

No matter which method an organization decides to set up leadership development, here are a few tips and tricks to making sure the development program is moving in the right direction.

  • Make leadership development a learning process, not an event: Too often, organizations fall into the trap of providing a single speaker or event and think they are practicing development. Leadership development works best when viewed as more than merely a program but instead a culture and a way of life.
  • Protect against overload. Build in the expectation that time is needed to reflect, practice, plan, and implement change during the development process.
  • Get the team involved. Team members can keep learners focused, accountable, and on track — and point out opportunities for putting learning into action and give feedback on progress.
  • Offer reinforcements. People may want to go back and review a topic from their program, reinforce a key lesson, dig deeper into a challenge or share ideas with coworkers. Offer related or targeted courses, webinars, lunch-and-learns, tools, books, or online learning.
  • Build a community of practice or social networks. Some organizations build networks where “graduates” of specific leadership development programs can maintain connections, share tips and experiences, and discuss challenges.

Once the program has been created, be sure to look back and evaluate the program impact. Ensure your organization is utilizing follow-up evaluations to be certain the information being given is having an impact, employees feel encouraged to reflect on the impact of development, and those employees understand why development is important to the entire organization.

Leadership development isn’t reserved only for upper level managers.  Line level managers control your delivery of goods and services during that “last mile” and motivate and coach the employees that are most in touch with your client base. They are also one of your most powerful retention assets. Leadership development programs that accurately assess gaps and provide development opportunities are good for us all.

Jan Wilson

Director of Learning Design and Outcomes, Relias

Director of Learning Designs and Outcomes at Relias, Jan brings over 25 years of technology, human resources and learning expertise to the Relias team. Her experience in senior care spans more than a decade, including serving as a senior executive of learning strategy with one of the country's largest providers. As an organizational development consultant, she has provided strategic planning, process alignment, curriculum development and planning, and learning solutions to a variety of clients in pharma, healthcare and state governments.

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