Leadership Development – wise investment or wasteful fashion?
Andy Perkins Global Director Kaplan Leadership & Professional Development
Leadership development is considered one of our executives’ top developmental priorities and it is estimated that UK companies spend about £1.1b on Leadership Development activities every year whilst the amount reaches almost $14 billion in the US.
A commercial imperative for every organisation is to ensure that all this money is wisely invested to make a tangible difference rather than wasted on training hours that do not address the real developmental needs of their people.
This is the topic I explored at the recent Leadership Interact hosted by Kaplan Genesis. The answer, I believe, is quite simple:
Create any leadership intervention starting from a specific requirement and call for a high level of advocacy from your senior leaders.
What do you want your people to do differently?
It is vital that you answer this question prior to creating a development program. There are no wrong answers, but the objectives should be aligned to that of your organisation. So if you are a company that is trying to expand overseas, let’s say into Japan, it may be safe to assume that you need your people to understand the behaviours that would support moving into this very culturally sensitive market.
If your training interventions lack cultural awareness, they will not support your overall strategy.
Do you have buy in at the most senior level?
Experience has taught us that there is a direct correlation between the success of any development program and the quantity and quality of internal stakeholders’ involvement.
Your senior people should become the first ambassadors of the program and, having had a hand in outlining the objectives, they should be bought in from the very beginning.
Line managers should not only support their direct reports during their development journey but also measure and be measured on their people’s progress.
Once you have the answer to these questions you are in a good position to embark on designing a successful leadership program that is going to be commercially relevant to your organisation and create sustainable change that supports your strategic objectives. Using these answers, the route of measuring return on investment should also become clearer.