Several factors set excellent leaders apart from the pack. One key contributor is they are more willing and able to learn or pursue a habit of life-long learning. Research has proven that these top leaders produce twice as much net profit as average leaders and five times as much as subpar leaders. Consequently, US firms realize this key success factor and spend billions annually on leadership training programs to develop stronger and more capable leaders. Leaders, who will excel, build collaborative, productive teams — and ultimately, increase firm profitability. In order for firms to maximize a program’s ROI, firms need to exploit its effectiveness and usefulness for its leaders.
Results-oriented Strategies For Successful Leadership Programs
Based on my 25 years of business experience in working with many Fortune 500 and private entrepreneurial firms, several results-oriented strategies for firms to consider in executing an effective leadership training program include:
- Focus on creating an open mindset for participants — Often neglected as uncomfortablefor firms to deal with, behavioral change starts with tearing down barriers to changing mindsets or the participants’ deepest thoughts, assumptions and beliefs. For example, if empowerment is an objective, and several managers are reluctant to delegate, then this mindset must be changed if the training is to be effective. Firms can tie performance review objectives as one way to get participants to implement new methods.
- Define why the program was needed and customize One size does not fit all is definitely the case with leadership training. First companies should set the performance objectives to be reached. This will then define the agenda and curriculum to be developed around such objectives. Subsequently, companies should focus on the top two to three competencies required for each objective and resist the notion of trying to implement multiple competencies that have little to no bearing. A focus on required competencies and a custom-built program based on objectives gives participants something tangible to implement.
- Determine where to hold the program Evaluate the pros and cons of where to hold the program: (i) on-site (ii) off-site (iii) on-site but tied to real-time job responsibilities. If you hold the program at the job location, interruptions could disrupt continuity and effectiveness. If held off-site, studies show adults only retain 10 percent of what they learn. Firms must weigh carefully which method will ultimately be most productive. Finally, firms can consider another option which is holding the training on-site but create opportunities to apply the training to real firm projects or objectives similar to on-the-job training. This will help alleviate disruptions as participants utilize the training to accomplish everyday work.
- Follow-up by measuring results Firms need to create tools to monitor, track and measure participant’s improvement and development in leadership performance based on the program’s objectives. Besides measuring the firm’s ROI for the program, participants will take the program more seriously if tied to their performance. Once again, the firm can tie a participant’s performance review objectives to the program’s objectives in order to reinforce change and improvement. Firms should also seek participant feedback to ever-improve future program effectiveness.
The ability of leaders to continue to learn, improve and keep-up with new best practices is essential today towards effective leadership and corporate success. A successfully-executed leadership training program can transform leaders and provide real developmentthey can employ towards their firm’s goals and strategies and for their own career accomplishments. Author Terry Trayvick is the CEO and Founder of Level Five LLC. Level Five is committed to bringing clients the best approaches to business management across all disciplines- from strategy to execution- for the expressed purpose of driving breakthrough results. The company’s mission is to partner with clients to supplement their industry experience and knowledge with world class management systems to help deliver the results deserved. Simply stated, the company brings world class management to world class ideas.