Leadership Insight: Designing Effective Leader Development Programs

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Whether you are currently leading a team through a challenging project or are simply trying to navigate the professional gauntlet on your own, having an intentional effective Leader Development Program (LDP) is critical for success. 

Why are Leader Development Programs so important? Why should companies devote precious resources (in the form of time and money) to implementing a LDP?  Ken Blanchard summed up the quandary perfectly: “As the speed of business increases, it’s easy to focus only on the immediate need and pay less attention to the systemic issues that ultimately drive long-term success.” He goes on to make the case for why Leader Development Programs are instrumental in talent development and organizational success by sharing their findings: “We’ve found that there is a clear connection between the quality of an organization’s leadership practices and subsequent intentions by employees to stay with an organization, perform at a high level, and apply discretionary effort.”

What elements should every Leader Development Programs incorporate? Every effective Leader Development Program captures these four elements

    • Put Leadership in Context

In business, dovetailing means joining the individual and the organization in the strongest way possible. It focuses on aligning the individual’s personal and professional goals by getting to the heart of why they want to develop leadership traits.

    • Make Leadership Meaningful                                          

The retention level of classroom-based programs like that is low compared to experiential learning, which has a much higher rate of conveying concepts that stick.

    • Address Personal Responses to Change    

“Leadership development” implies change, and the fact is, many people are change averse. A Leadership Development Program must include coaching and experiences that help participants move past that resistance to change.

    • Give Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback             

A Leadership Development Program must include a process of communicating to employees how their growth as leaders is making a difference. Share with them how their individual contributions are positively impacting the organization as a whole.

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How do implement a successful Leader Development Program?

1. Assess Your Goals

Before you start a Leader Development Program, you have to make sure your business has a clear vision and stated goals.

2. Identify Leadership Candidates 
Identifying the employees best suited for leadership can be difficult so be sure to spend an adequate amount of time studying your employees’ and their respective strengths.

3. Use Real-World Examples

A Leadership Development Program is only as good as its practical applications, so build a program that is relatable and applicable to your employees’ daily lives.

4. Learn to Lead in a Global Economy
Today’s global, and often times geographically-dispersed workforce, demands that your program help employees establish personal relationships and camaraderie. 

How do I know if my Leader Development Programs is successful?

Inevitably, the question of Return on Investment comes up when discussing a leader development program. There are real challenges to assessing the ROI of people-oriented initiatives. Consider conducting pre- and post-training assessments in order to compare results and determine what they’ve learned. Also, collecting 360 feedback will tell you what changes, if any, those who work with the leaders are seeing. Finally, you can measure the hard numbers, such as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and retention/succession rates.  


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Don’t put off instituting a leader development program any longer; get your team offsite with a retreat or day of team building at Lone Star Peak Performance!