Organizations of all sizes make substantial investments in leadership development, but is it really paying off? With few exceptions, leadership programs are evaluated only on the content of the programs themselves – not outcomes. What’s more, organizations might not be sending the right people to the right programs.
While there’s a lot that needs to change about how organizations develop their leaders, here are three of the most salient reforms we’d like to see.
1. Stop thinking of leadership as one-size-fits-all
The meaning of the word “leadership” depends on your business goals. If a particular development seminar or series doesn’t define leadership in a way that matters to your organization, look for one that does. After all, different business goals call for different leadership models. Examples include:
- Creating a positive buzz around your brand among target markets
- Recruiting members and increasing engagement
- Increasing revenue through team-driven communication and processes
Your leadership model might align with goals that are entirely different from these, and that’s okay. What matters is that you’re not sending your leaders (or potential leaders) to development programs that simply aren’t relevant.
2. Choose different participants
Deciding who participates in leadership development is easy. You just send your managers and executives, right?
Not so fast. You want to develop your organization’s leaders, not perpetuate the status quo. Consider using leadership assessment tools to identify rising leaders in your organization. Once you’ve found the right participants, you can count on them getting more out of a development program than someone who has already “made it,” so to speak.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t get current managers involved in relevant, results-oriented leadership activities. Just don’t prevent future leaders from joining the conversation, too.
3. Evaluate outcomes, not program content
Ah, outcomes! The “meat” of any leadership development effort. The answer to that burning question, “Was all of this really worth it?”
Be sure that participating leaders actually become better leaders after attending, which you can assess by asking questions like:
- Have our leaders fundamentally changed how they do things since participating in the seminar?
- Can we quantify performance improvement since involving leaders in a development program?
- Are employees more motivated or efficient as a result of a new direction in leadership?
Ultimately, better leadership development calls on organizations to actively determine what they want to achieve via a particular program. And while these three reforms certainly aren’t a panacea for building better leaders, they’re definitely a good start.
Start making leadership a priority at your organization. Ask how we can help you develop change-driven, innovative leaders who motivate teams to meet business goals.