Getting the Most Out of Your Next Leadership Development Program
Offering employees opportunities to learn and to grow into more challenging and rewarding positions is a great tool to keep your organization strongïwhen done right. Too many companies spend money on seminars and coaching sessions that fail to produce. When developing your next leadership development program, think about what makes a successful program work.
To get the best results from your leadership development efforts, it’s important to avoid certain pitfalls.
-There’s no vision. Too many programs fail to define what potential leaders are being developed for. Creating a focused effort that truly prepares future leaders requires that the mission for each person is clearly understood so training can build up the skills and mindsets necessary to fulfill specific roles within your company.
-Programs are led by untested ïexperts.ï Any random person can declare himself or herself a professional leadership coach. Put effort into verifying the credentials and background of anyone whom you may engage to spearhead your next leadership development program.
-No one evaluates the curriculum. Take a more proactive approach to determining a training program’s value rather than merely sending rating sheets to attendees. Look into what your people will be taught and consider how well it fits into your company’s values and vision and whether it will offer tangible benefit to your employees.
-Programs rely on fluff. Too many leadership development offerings amount to little more than motivational speaking, vague ïseminarsï or exercises that convey little useful, specific information. Your next leadership development program should be tailored to your business needs and the management roles within it. General management concepts should be incorporated as techniques to build directly applicable skills.
-There’s little real impact. What your employees learn from a program should continue beyond their overt training if it is to have any real impact on their development. Tie the principles of the curriculum and the values of your company together to reinforce good management skills on the job.
Doing It Right
Your next leadership development program should stress certain key elements to get the most from your people.
-Identify objectives. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve and be specific about it. Clearly defined goals are crucial to the implementation of a development initiative that gets results. Knowing what you want to get out of a program helps you create valid measurement tools to gauge success as well.
-Stay involved. Don’t check out of the process. Whether you hire an outside expert or firm to handle your development program or handle it in-house, you should be careful to avoid the temptation to take the approach that requires the least effort. Having someone speak to your employees or having a recognition dinner here and there isn’t going to do much to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.
-Dig deep. Your next leadership development program should bring development out of the executive ranks and take it all the way to the bottom of your company. The reality is that there is no way to know where the next great leaders of your company are at any moment. Businesses must think long term. The young person who just got his or her first job as a gofer in one of your minor departments could be driving your company’s greatest expansion in 20 years. Ensure the tools and processes that would make that possible are available to everyone.
-Incorporate leadership into the culture. Everything about your organization should reinforce what your company depends upon to thrive. Every department, every position, every process and every rule should be a clear part of a whole, functioning together to achieve specific objectives. Living this culture every day helps develop a natural understanding of your company’s inner workings and the purpose behind it allïimportant concepts for any manager to grasp.
-Take ownership. Your next leadership development program would likely achieve the best results by being implemented directly by you. Who could ever understand your culture, values, organization and goals better than you Deep comprehension of those aspects of your company is far more difficult to gain than the techniques of developing management skills.
You Hold the Key
Ultimately, the most important element in cultivating future leaders in your company is you. Committing to the entire processïfrom deciding on goals, to defining the structure and curriculum, to incorporating lessons into the fabric of daily work at your businessïis critical to the success of your next leadership development program. The leaders who will take your organization into the future are waiting. Be ready to help them help you.
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