09 Nov

Leadership development programs Best practices

A company’s leadership is a key determinant to how likely it might succeed. In the highly competitive modern business environment, leaders are expected to deliver more in less time. They are also expected to continuously develop the skills needed to keep the company competitive in an ever-changing market. Companies are always on the lookout for leaders to fill positions that need the right talent, or to replace retired leaders.

Encouraging existing employees to take self-development courses is the most effective way to build a robust and flexible leadership team. Leadership development programs are, therefore, of particular interest to modern organizations. Having properly structured leadership development policies can determine the success or failure of an organization. In order to create great leaders, organizations must know what skills and attribute they require in their leaders.

Once known, the organization can then focus on recommending or engaging their future and existing leaders into programs that hone these attributes. Effective leadership development programs can also develop behaviours and skills to help the business deal with challenges, build a coherent understanding of company priorities, and what needs to be done for the company to succeed.

A successful leadership development program has to impart practical knowledge to employees. It also has to be efficient in terms of time and cost. Programs that are expensive and prolonged usually result in the organization and the employees being trained feeling that the effort is not worthwhile.

There are a variety of leadership development programs that employees can enrol in for them to constantly improve their leadership skills. 

Individual initiatives in leadership management

In the past, workers could spend their whole careers at the same company, and it made sense for companies to invest in their development extensively. In recent times, workers tend to move between companies after less than three years. This leaves companies with significantly less incentive to invest in leadership development, as they might not stand to benefit from it. Employees, therefore, often have to take the initiative and enrol in leadership management courses that align with their desired career paths. 

Competency-based leadership development

A properly structured leadership development program has a significantly reduced duration and cost, which makes it more make it more effective. Online self-assessment tools help in the accurate identification of individual training needs. This makes it possible to identify training programs that better align to these needs and are, thus, much more effective.

While it’s easier to use generic leadership assessments, employees should try to focus their choice of training programs to the requirements of a specific career path. This is better than blindly enrolling to a program and then developing their career to fit that program. When the leadership development program is tailored towards individual employee needs, the input is more focused and produces better results. 

Align leadership development with business goals

For a leadership development program to be effective, it must also align with the goals that an organization is trying to achieve. Companies must also establish particular reasons for why they want to develop leaders. It may be to increase their knowledge base, increase overall performance, or to improve productivity.  Their choice of a leadership training program to enrol their employees should be aligned to those particular reasons. For example, if a company is sponsoring one of its manager’s studies, it must know what skills that program can impart to the manager, and how those skills will benefit the company. It is critical to demonstrate a direct path between money spent on leadership development and the achievement of organizational goals.

The types of leaders that are needed in an organization vary depending on the specific role. Organizations, therefore, need guidelines for training and developing leaders for each leadership positions. These guidelines should include skills that other employees in the same position have. They should also be constantly evaluated to ensure that they consider how the requirements for a position may change with time, and how their choice of training programs can reflect these changes.

Having an accurate and regularly updated skill development framework is vital to accurately evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each leader. It also ensures that employees know the skills they need to develop further, and choosing the appropriate training programs to register for.

Promote co-operation between senior leaders and trainees

Existing leaders and new leaders need to cooperate, if an organization is to have a genuinely successful leadership development program. Organizations that include senior leaders in leadership development programs usually have a higher training success rates.  Involving the present leaders in leadership development programs are more effective as they have the ability to recommend programs that are known, from experience, to drive high performance in new leaders. It also enables the sharing of skills that are needed to cater for ever-changing business goals.

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