Creating an effective leadership development strategy requires time and attention.
The first step is to address these 5 key focus areas.
- Purpose: This is the most important component to define but it is often overlooked. Can you articulate what you are expecting to achieve with your leadership development efforts? Is your goal to retain existing talent, improve your internal leadership pipeline or attract new talent? Are you looking to energize your employees with the knowledge that you care about them and are thoughtfully investing in their development? Once you identify your purpose, how will you measure success? Remember that people pay attention to what is measured and you are more likely to have a successful outcome.
- Audience: The most effective leadership development strategies are wide reaching and inclusive. Leadership development should not be restricted to the leaders at the top but also the development of rising talent, new managers or new hires that are years away from a traditional leadership position. It may mean providing targeted and intentional development opportunities for minority or underrepresented groups as well as intentionally creating opportunities for leaders and teams from across the company to come together to learn, network and build relationships.
- Objectives: This is where most traditional leadership development strategies start and end. This is the nuts and bolts – the answer to the question, “what do we want people to walk away with?” Too often the creation of these objectives come solely from what the company needs it’s leaders to know, rather than starting with a thoughtful evaluation of the purpose and intended audience of the programs, and thinking about their needs and how to serve them. The difference is objectives that are generic ‘one size fits all’ offerings and objectives that are customized and relevant for both the organization and the individuals they are meant for.
- Content: Once you’ve finalized your objectives, ensure that you are utilizing content that is recent, relevant and specific to your particular organization and the market that you are working within. Our world of work is constantly changing and evolving which means that our content must continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of employees. Make sure you’re providing your customers with the latest and best information available.
- Method: Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found that most CEO’s say that L&D is “wildly out of sync” with how people learn. Classroom style training where participants are berated with loads of content and little practice opportunity just don’t work. The most effective methods will include a thoughtful and intentional mix of content and participatory exercise, employing many different channels of learning to reach all types of learning styles. Think about the duration of the offerings (some companies employ a week-long immersive academy experience, while others opt for ½ day offerings or shorter). Make sure that the content that you want to cover and the skills that you want to improve, realistically align with the time that you have available. It is critical that participants have adequate time to practice new skills and that there is reinforcement after the program. Learning is a process and not a one-time event.
Thoughtful, deliberate attention to these 5 key areas will ensure that you create a leadership development strategy that not only immediately bolsters your employee experience but, develops your people much more effectively.