According to the Harvard Business Publishing 2018 State of Leadership Development research report, organizational transformation is the new norm today. Successful transformation begins with changing learning and development (L&D) programs to support new business objectives; however, 75 percent of those surveyed believe that these programs need improvement.[i]
Taking a closer look at leadership programs, although the majority of organizations have leadership development programs, only seven percent describe their programs as “best in class,” according to this research.[ii]
How do you develop a successful leadership and development training program?
Step 1: Begin with Results
Building a leadership training program that is truly designed for your organization starts with understanding your leadership program goals and the results you are looking to achieve. This is where you can begin to develop a plan for leadership training and the supporting measurements of success. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What does great leadership in your organization look like?
- What kind of impact are you looking to achieve?
- What kind of leadership culture are you hoping to build?
A solid comprehensive leadership development program trains and builds a solid foundation on skills like Coaching, Accountability, Change Management, Influence and Negotiation, and Communication.[iii]
Step 2: Know your Audience
Understanding the audience of learners and how to target their leadership needs is the next important step to consider when customizing a training program. Consider using assessments and evaluation tools to better understand the roles, training needs, and development strengths in your organization. Who is your target audience and what is their leadership level in the organization? Are your learners:
- Individual contributors
- First-level leaders
- Mid-level leaders
- Executive development
The training provided to prepare an entry-level manager to make the transition from being an independent contributor to an effective manager is quite different compared to an executive’s development leadership plan that may focus on coaching, 360-degree feedback assessments, and risk management skills. Take the time to carefully evaluate your audience of learners.
Step 3: Prepare the Plan
As you begin to develop a training plan, make a checklist for a flawless execution of the training program, including identifying internal champions, choosing training content, coordinating training schedules and trainers, determining relevant reinforcement techniques, managing data, and measuring success.
This planning exercise also helps to consider preferred learner preferences and training methods for leadership training. This includes choosing the modalities and blended approach that maps uniquely to the individual learners. What modalities will provide convenient access and maximize the learner experience? Consider the diverse options available, including:
- Traditional classroom (instructor-led training)
- Virtual classroom
- Agile classroom (huddle)
- Performance support
Based on the Training Industry, Inc. research report, What Learners Want: Strategies for Training Delivery, to better understand and engage the modern learner, training programs delivered by at least one preferred training method are 50 percent more likely to be effective.[iv] Furthermore, using multiple training modalities has a greater impact on the overall training effectiveness.
The research also showed that learners generally agree that on-the-job-training, on-the-job coaching, and instructor-led training are the most effective training methods for leadership development training, followed by job aids and training videos.
Transformation is Possible, Learn from Others
As you strategize, prepare, and implement your leadership development programs, remember to reflect on lessons learned from other programs. What worked and what didn’t? What lessons can you apply to future programs? What would you do differently if you could it again?
You can also get inspired and learn from some of the other companies who have seen success in developing leadership development programs. Here are just a few of our client’s amazing stories about how they developed and transformed their leadership programs.
The Unum Story – 2018 Brandon Hall Group Excellence Silver Award for Leadership Development
Designing a Manager Training Academy Centered Around Creating Leaders and Driving Cultural Change
Unum created a leadership development program to meet the changing needs of the marketplace. The organization developed a leadership program centered on clear goals for corporate strategy, coaching to higher performance, supporting employees through change, and modeling leadership at all levels. Read the success story to learn more.
The Girl Scouts Story – 2017 Brandon Hall Group Gold Award winner for Best Results of a Learning Program for Leadership Training
From Dysfunction to Empowerment: A Case Study in Culture Change
The Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council transformed its antiquated and stagnant legacy culture to one of innovation, leadership, and strength. Included in the overall learning solution were employee needs assessment and evaluation tools, leadership development tools, intergenerational training models and techniques, strengths assessment, and development tools. Read the success story or watch the on-demand webinar to learn more.
A Leadership Partner
There are times when collaborating with a learning and development partner can offer the expertise, tools, and resources needed to help you deliver successful outcomes for your leadership development program.
“As companies focus on delivering leadership training programs, the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies are leading the way with new modalities to improve the impact and sustainability of their programs beyond traditional instructor-led experiences, to better align with the needs of the modern workforce,” said Ken Taylor, president of Training Industry, Inc.[v]