A recent Forbes article on the failures of leadership development stated that, “Only 25% of organizations are ready to replace only 10% of their critical positions. That means that about 97.5% of critical leadership positions are unprepared to be filled by anyone.”
As a business owner, that statistic is jarring, and if you’re in a leadership position or aspiring to be in one you should be alarmed too. Leadership requires a unique skillset far different than any individual role, but many organizations almost invariably provide training solely through job-shadowing or off-the-shelf-training. For those following along at home, this approach is all but guaranteed to fail.
A working leadership training program needs to reflect your organization’s specific needs, moral compass, and structural aesthetic. Otherwise, leadership development will become a joke in your organization, and possibly even be seen by potential candidates as a place where up-and-comers go before they move onto a real opportunity.
My recent blog on cultivating a continuous learning environment holds true for leadership development programs, and to supplement that post I’ve added a few strategies for a leadership development program that will actually, well, produce leaders.
Make it Relevant
If your organization does use off-the-shelf-leadership development methods, than they need to be coupled with opportunities to use this newfound knowledge in a real-life work environment. Just as important, this sort of training should follow your leaders as they move up throughout an organization. This will allow them to learn in a familiar environment and help yesterday’s learners turn into tomorrow’s teachers.
Make it Personalized
You should expect a certain level of personalization from your employees, and that applies to their training as well. Good training methods are adaptive for each leader and speak to their specific needs. This will allow them to grow in their role with training courses and new opportunities while also filling in gaps in their skillset.
To be clear, this doesn’t require additional courses be created – this could include special project assignments, project leadership roles, or curation of internet-accessible articles and sites dedicated to a specific topic of interest or need.
Make it Accessible
There are two distinct categories when it comes to leadership training: push and pull. Push training is the sort that is scheduled and relates to annual planning and certain distinct objectives, performance reviews, or succession planning. Pull training needs to be easily accessible when it’s needed and where it’s needed—and needs to be designed in an easily digestible manner. This is important because if one of your newly promoted leaders needs to make a personnel decision or have a difficult conversation, the resources are readily available to allow them to act with confidence and empathy.
Make it Memorable
Finally, leadership development must be a memorable, continuous experience. This could mean mentoring opportunities from other industry leaders, peer-meetings to share struggles and successes, badging or other opportunities for recognition, and opportunities for introspection and future growth.
While far from all-inclusive list, these strategies can greatly increase the likelihood for leadership development success within your organization.
If you’d like to learn more about how we’ve developed effective, ongoing leadership development experiences for our client partners, please contact me. And please share your personal tips, strategies, and success stories in the comments below!
While not an all-inclusive list, these strategies can greatly increase the likelihood for leadership development success within your organization.