How to Develop Effective Leadership Programs

How to Develop Effective Leadership Programs


How to Develop Effective Leadership Programs
By Patricia Dammann, MSHR, MBA, ODCC

Many organizations bemoan the fact that they are spending a lot on leadership development, but the programs are not reaping the expected benefits.  Some of the complaints are that leadership development programs do not meet the strategic needs of the business, are too expensive, develop leaders too late, the programs are not aligned with the culture, etc. Here are some tips to help you develop Effective Leadership Development Programs:

1) Create a Leadership Development Strategy that aligns with the business goals of your organization.   Identify the key business drivers that are critical for your organization’s existence.  This provides the measuring stick to see if your leaders are able to accomplish the business goals of the organization.  Assessing both current leadership skills and abilities and those that are needed for the future illustrates the gaps of both the current and future state.
2) Broaden the Definition of Leadership to include a leadership pool that goes beyond organizational boundaries.  As organizations become flatter and flatter, we need to expand beyond the traditional titles (managers, directors, etc.) and includes teams and networks of teams that more closely reflect the structures of today’s organizations.
3) Collect and Analyze Data to Build Leadership Programs that are effective.  This includes a hard look at all your programs and processes at all levels.  Assessing processes such as leader identification, development, mentoring and coaching, and how leaders move through the organization, will provide useful information as to the impact of your leadership programs.   Leaders need to exhibit appropriate behaviors and achieve results.  If the programs are not meeting the mark, they need to be revamped to meet the organization’s needs.
4) Develop Innovative Leadership Programs where leaders can practice and hone new skills in a different environment, and receive coaching and feedback (special projects, nonprofit projects, action learning, rotational assignments, etc.).  This can be very effective in determining how leaders are able to execute in new surroundings.
5) Develop New Models of Leadership Teams that reflect the structure and culture of the organization.  For example, identify the collective capabilities that are required of the leaders when acting together and the key attributes of the positive culture created by leaders through the way in which they lead.
6) Develop Leaders Early and focus on young, diverse leaders.  Waiting until an employee is in the “position” creates missed opportunities to broaden and deepen leadership skills.  Take a look at your millennial workforce and identify those high potential leaders early on—don’t wait until the pipeline is empty.
7) Review Your Leadership Investment to determine if you are spending on programs and initiatives that provide a return on investment.  Best practice organizations spend on programs..

Without the right leadership, organizational strategies are nothing but ideas.  Getting the appropriate leadership to implement business strategies takes much planning and dedication as well as a major investment.


Developing a Leadership Strategy:  A Critical Ingredient for Organizational Success, Center for Creative Leadership, William Pasmore, Ph.D.
Global Human Capital Trends 2016:  The New Organization–Different By Design, Deloitte University Press 2016

Additional Information:

IOD’s online Leadership Development Certification Program(LDCP) provides you with a proven approach to build a strategically aligned Leadership Development Program for your organization.  Through lively lectures and group discussions, you will learn how to develop a strategic approach to Leadership Development Management that aligns with the business goals of the organization, make the business case, align leadership development with your organization’s culture, develop a leadership pipeline, build a succession plan, and evaluate program results.

Patricia Dammann
VP Programs and Operations


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