More and more we are seeing companies work to create some form of internal Leadership Development Program. Finding talent, developing that talent for the modern workforce and creating a talent pipeline is top of mind for many CEOs. According to the latest Gallup Survey, 87% of millennials report that professional and career development are very important. With 50% of millennials making up the workforce, it is more essential than ever to develop programs that work. Whether it is via resources inside the organization or partnering with external experts, it is important to do this right for your organization’s specific needs. Too often we see cookie cutter programs that aren’t customized. In other words, they miss out on opportunities to deepen the experience and the impact they are having on their workforce.
Key areas to consider while formulating your Leadership Development Program
What are the Business Strategy Needs?
If the company is going through change, the change needs to be understood. If the culture is shifting, people need to know their role in the shift. If there are mergers and acquisitions, leadership programs need people to drive and adjust as they integrate cultures. If the environment requires a stronger client focus, leadership programs need to create a service mentality. Whatever you are doing in your organization the program needs to be driven back to the business through the training.
Get Leadership Sponsorship
Meaning if they champion this, it will be taken seriously and have lasting effects. Sure – showing up to kick off the program is important but helping to champion and support along the way is key. Creating clear objectives and utilizing knowledge of leadership to help adjust the program along the way will create buy in from all levels.
Focus on Development, Not Training
Make sure that what you do is relevant and real to the current environment of the people in the program. There is a major difference when you learn to drive a car in the classroom and when you learn to drive a car out on the road. If it is hypothetical – if it is canned – it will not become part of their DNA. You want them applying this knowledge in real time to real situations so they truly take in how to utilize this learning in future situations.
Design Around Your Culture
Whether it is the number of sessions, the way they meet, the competencies you want people to learn or application of those competencies. You must think about what will resonate for your people and your culture. Virtual sessions may work for some organizations but not for others. Learning about strategy and change may be necessary for some and for others it might be learning how to have powerful conversations or understanding the levels of leadership. Using certain language might make people disengage. Knowing and customizing a program to what will work in your organization will help deepen the experience and the impact.
Connect the Dots
Deliver this program over time and with real projects or ways to implement concepts from the ground up. This will help people see the impact of what they are learning. Build in the ability to bridge the learning not only with each session but also with what is going on in the company’s environment today. Singular training sessions are somewhat helpful but do not show how learning is blended. Nor does it encourage bringing people into a mode of understanding why it is important and how it can make their impact greater.