As a business owner, you know that developing a leadership pipeline is essential to the success of your company. But what is a leadership development program, and why should you invest in one? In this article, we will discuss what a leadership development program is and why it’s important for businesses. We will also provide tips on how to choose the right program for your organization.
What Is a Leadership Development Program?
While leadership development programs can look differently for each organization they serve, most are created with the intention to invest in a company’s internal growth and upward development by moving employees with high potential to leadership positions and inspiring the next generation of new hires. Leadership development can come in many forms, including mentorship, group learning or workshops, or experiential learning, among others.
Why Invest in Developing Leaders? Is Leadership Development Important?
Training your employees is undoubtedly an additional expense that may, at first glance, be hard to justify, especially with a tight budget. However, the implications for failing to invest in your employees through leadership development programs include nearsightedness, lower employee morale and productivity, and long-term business decline.
Of course, the answer to the second query of this heading is open for interpretation—but many progressive business owners dedicated to company expansion believe in investing in their employees, and typically with tangible results. Here are some of the top reasons why a company should invest in leadership development:
1. It improves morale…which boosts productivity. Did you know that according to a recent study by IBM, employees are 12 times more likely to quit a job if the company does not provide opportunities to develop their careers? Investing in your employees through training, workshops, and career advancement can have a motivating effect that creates a positive company culture of continuous inspiration, learning, and productivity.
2. It provides employee autonomy. Equipping your employees with more authority and autonomy in the workplace can mean less micromanaging that needs to be done from a management perspective—and may even save on the cost of overhead. An autonomous employee is a happy employee…and that is an employee that is likelier to be productive and stick around for the long-term.
3. It saves the expenses associated with employee turnover. Hiring and training can be expensive and time-consuming. Help fight employee turnover by investing in your crew with a clear path to success and continued development…and find yet another way to increase your margins at the same time.
4. You can attract quality applicants. By raising the standards in your workplace through leadership development training and career advancement opportunities, you are more likely to attract talented candidates when it comes time to expand your business and add to your team. Likewise, you will be able to network with higher caliber competitors and industry leaders, making acquiring quality applicants even easier.
5. You can improve the chance of effective problem-solving and action. Misdirected, directionless employees are more likely to make mistakes, rather than become an asset to your company. By developing your employees, you are also investing in your bottom line—and avoiding potential returns or refunds, customer service fiascos, and other headaches.
6. You can increase company loyalty. If you treat your employees right through training, advancement, and benefits, they are likely to work hard for your company and stick around long-term. By fostering a community with similar values, you can create a powerfully loyal team of collaborators.
7. You can improve Public Relations. If you’re known for investing in your employees, you’ll gain a great reputation that may not only attract quality applicants, but customers. If people vote with their dollars, some customers are more likely to purchase products or services from a company that practices strong ethics.
Can Leadership Skills Be Taught?
While there are definitely some skills or characteristics that may be innate in a leader, such as empathy or emotional intelligence, leaders can absolutely be built up and developed with training. In fact, “natural” leaders may lack a skill set that might set another developing leader up for company success, such as an inclination towards interpreting data and analytics. There are many ways to become a leader, but it typically does not happen overnight.
What to Look For in a Leadership Development Program
While there are many ways to be a leader, some ways of developing leaders are more effective than others. For example, throwing a large amount of money at a classroom-based curriculum might not be as effective as other forms of learning, such as collaborative workshops, internships, or field trips. However, to succeed, a leadership development program must have the following characteristics.
Does the training program at hand have a core value system that they implement? Do they inspire action in the right way, with an ethics-minded team? The more credibility a leader has, the better mentor they will be to developing leaders, making for a coach or mentor with a greater impact on your team. Finding a leadership development program with core values you’d like to emulate is a great way of onboarding all of your employees at once to a company-wide moral compass.
An effective leadership development program will communicate effectively in an array of different mediums and styles in order to reach the widest possible audience. The better able an organization is to articulate its point, educate your crew, or provide meaningful experiences, the higher your chances (and your employees’ chances) of success will be.
Celebrating Successes and Learning From Setbacks
It’s unrealistic to expect your employees to succeed 100% of the time. But what we can expect is that they reflect on the experience of what didn’t go right and look for long-term solutions to the problem. An effective leadership development program will set achievable goals for your employees throughout their training, with pauses for reflection and analysis when there are teachable moments.
Fostering Personal Accountability
With the power of leadership comes the responsibility to take accountability for your impact in both an interpersonal way and a professional way. Strong leadership development programs understand how integral a sense of personal accountability is to effective leadership—and how we can’t all be right all of the time. Sometimes we have to own up to our mistakes, or at the very least, make room for other voices to be heard should something seem amiss with our tactics.
While it’s certainly a simple plan of action to face your developing leaders with a series of classroom presentations, there is research that suggests that experiential learning may not only be more effective in communicating information, but may also help with retention as well. By finding a leadership development program that emphasizes hands-on learning, you are building leaders with real-world experience and the confidence to carry their new skills into the future.
PMLG's Industry-Leading Leadership Development Programs
Investing in your employees means more than providing a filtered water cooler and a snack machine in the break room; it means providing opportunities for them to succeed, and even excel, at work. The more autonomy you can provide your employees, the more confident, competent, motivated, and loyal they will be to your company—an investment with an untold ROI.
Are you curious to learn more about some of the best leadership development programs in the industry? Browse PMLG’s curriculum of experiential leadership trainings or look for an upcoming training opportunity!