Creating Leaders: Effective Programs

leader standingA successful leadership development program produces positive change at all levels of an organization.  It changes how employees perceive their leaders, deal with uncertainty as well as opportunity, meet customer needs, and set expectations for growth.  For managers, it alters how they deal with complex problems, engage and motivate their people, link the organization’s vision to their team, and enhance performance.  It grants a manager the tools necessary to grow from knowing how to manage a few to leading many.  Within the organization as a whole, it assists with setting the standard for success, aligning resources with desired outcomes, improving the quality of decision-making, increasing collaboration, and addressing how best to interact with our environment.  In the most basic sense, a successful leadership development program empowers employees, managers, and the organization to reach their full potential.

Although almost every large organization recognizes the need for developing their leaders, few feel they succeed at producing the level of leader needed.  According to American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), more than $170 billion was spent on leadership-focused curriculum in 2013, yet few organizations indicated a significant change in the actual quality of leadership.  The most basic criticism of programs that fail to reach their full potential relates to defining success (Chartered Management Institute).  In most organizations, success equates to providing basic knowledge of common leadership systems, processes, and techniques. This approach to success assumes that if a leader knows the “right way” to do things, he or she will be assured success.  Although basic knowledge or tools clearly provide one facet of developing successful leaders, success pertains to an actual improvement in leadership .

If our goal is move beyond simply having a program to creating real improvement in the quality of day-to-day leadership in our organization, it is important to determine what factors led to success in those programs that produce the best results.  Over the last several decades, organizations as diverse as BB&T, Coca-Cola, US Navy, Best Buy, GE, USX, Federal Express, ARAMARK, and CHG Health Care have been successful at creating real change in quality of the leadership in their organizations.  An analysis of what made them successful points to seven “factors for success” or key programmatic elements:

  • ·         Clearly defined outcomes
  • ·         Holistic structure
  • ·         Targeted learning methodology
  • ·         Tiered content
  • ·         Comprehensive and aligned competency model
  • ·         Recognized measures of success
  • ·         Interactive evaluation methodology

Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of the factors for success.

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