Most leadership development initiatives fail to deliver what they promise. Most often, the misalignment between an organisation’s leadership development plan and the business strategy is the reason why mid-level, senior leaders, or HiPos in many organisations remark that leadership development programs are ineffective. Five factors are critical to the success of a leadership development initiative in an organisation.
1. Integrating values with program design
An integrated approach towards workshops, one-to-one coaching and action learning projects is more impactful than leadership workshops. While designing their leadership development programs, organisations need to ensure that its leadership model and values are incorporated into the overall design of the workshop. Whether the organisation designs the program internally or employs an L&D consultant, it should be based on thorough insights of how the values translate into learning interventions.
2. Making leaders accountable
Creating a sustainable pipeline of promotable internal talent that provides top-tier leadership needs an integrated, systemic approach to talent management. The accountability of these initiatives cannot lie on HR department or the L&D team alone. The current crop of leaders in various organisations needs to take responsibility of creating a talent management culture and developing the next layer of leadership talent for the firm.
3. The context
Many organisations may fall into the temptation of rolling out standard L&D programs offered by recognised consultants. It is, however, important to evaluate closely whether the context of standardised L&D programs is aligned with the unique nature and needs of the organisation.
4. Program content
Focusing on self-awareness: How one shows up as a leader is an important component of leadership behaviour. Self-awareness is the basic premise on which life experiences and leadership styles are based. A program design absolutely must cover the essentials of self-awareness.
Inspiring and influencing others: When leaders are self-aware, from their authentic space they need to inspire and influence others around them. An important component of the L&D program content is to teach how to communicate business purpose and create energy in the system.
Developing people and managing performance: Developing people needs to be a high priority for all leaders. Coaching, mentoring and supporting high performance create a culture of accountability and ownership.
Networking and cross functional collaboration: Leaders need to be aware of systemic influences and be able to remove constraints to allow teams and individuals to collaborate effectively. A crucial component of a leadership development plan should thus be around how leaders can identify and remove systemic and collaboration constraints.
5. Planning program design
A leadership development plan should have a systematic plan of workshops comprising 2-3 days and then followed up through one-to-one coaching. There needs to be a system where participants can share their breakthrough projects (action learning) to a senior bunch of select people (senior management support) and get inputs and mentoring. Through such planned interventions, an organisation can connect the leadership development program to current business challenges of the organisation.
Having an integrated approach to leadership development, therefore, will create a basis for calculating hard ROI and tangible results.