Three Vital Questions You Should Ask about Your Leadership Development Programs
“Organizations that fail to develop strong future leaders will inevitably see that high-potential talent – already in short supply – head elsewhere.” This sentiment shared in a recent Harvard Business Review article is a familiar idea among business and human resources executives. Companies are seeking new approaches to develop, engage, and retain their key leaders to help them better prepare for the future.
Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach to leadership development. Today’s top organizations are creating opportunities that align with the needs of particular groups within their leadership ranks – and they’re seeing better results.
Whether you’re just starting to design a new program or you’ve had one in place for years, here are three vital questions you should ask about your leadership development efforts.
First, who is the audience? What do you know about them and their learning styles? Where are they on their leadership development journey? Answering these questions will help you identify and better serve different cohorts within your leadership ranks – thereby increasing the relevance and applicability of programs for each group. I wrote last year about several ways to get your executives excited about their own leadership development, which will inevitably drive them to take responsibility for their own programs.
Second, what outcomes and objectives do you expect to achieve? What behaviors would you like to see from the participants? How should leadership development influence or align with overall corporate strategy? Once you know what success looks like, you should build your leadership development plan around those ideas.
As you begin to roll out new leadership programs, be sure to check your results against the original goals to ensure you’re staying on track. If things are off course, find out if there’s a good reason — and then reassess your answers to questions one and three to make sure you’re delivering the right kind of program to the right population.
Third, what elements will best contribute to your stated outcomes? With so many learning options available these days, it’s important to provide leadership development in a format that will lead to real results.
For example, if you provide an on-demand, e-learning program to a group of high potentials with the intention of increasing communication and collaboration, you might want to rethink that one. While the online format may seem more convenient and cost-effective, it will provide little in the way of personal interaction that leaders really need. Instead you should find ways to help this cohort break down functional silos and develop deeper relationships, which likely involves an in-person experience.
A recent Vistage white paper entitled, “The Next Generation of Executive Leadership: Building Critical Skills in ‘Pre-Suite’ Leaders” goes into detail on these three questions that are essential to ask about any leadership development program.
As PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indira Nooyi stated, “The one thing I have learned as a CEO is that leadership at various levels is vastly different. When I was leading a function or a business, there were certain demands and requirements to be a leader. As you move up the organization, the requirements for leading that organization don’t grow vertically; they grow exponentially.”
How will you ensure your leaders are ready for this kind of exponential personal growth?