The last two elements of a successful leadership development program pertain to measurement and assessing impact or results. All initiatives, regardless of nature should be assessed for their level of success and associated return on investment. Although most organizations recognize the importance of assessing satisfaction with the training experience, less measure the tangible impact training. The “real value” of training arises from changes in behaviors and outcomes in the workplace. Put simply, if an employee attends training, there should be a multiplier effect to the value of that knowledge. For leaders, this multipler should be greater than other employee categories since a leader influences more processes, resources, and outcomes.
Element 6: Recognized measures of success
Measurement is critical to gauging as well as enhancing the success any leadership development program. Although some variation exists in measurement, the standard for most successful leadership programs originates with the work of Collins and Holton. Their 2004 article in Human Resource Development Quarterly, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Managerial Leadership Development Programs: A meta-analysis of studies from 1982 to 2001” summarizes seven core categories of outcome measurement (see Figure 1).
Collins and Holton Leadership Development Program Measures
(Source: Collins and Holton, 2004, p.225)
Among the most successful programs, multiple assessment methods coupled with multiple measurement points provides the basis for quantifying value and identifying areas for adjustment or improvement. The most common measurement methods among exceptional programs appear in Figure 2.
Most Common Measurement Methods in Successful Leadership Programs
As a specific example, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) utilizes sustained participant satisfaction, increase in self-awareness, relevance of learning objectives, achievement of learning objectives, and positive impact on behavior to measure success of its participants. Similarly, British Petroleum (BP) links its program to outcomes by employing multi-source surveys to assess organizational awareness, interpersonal skills, communication skills, self-awareness, general management skills, leadership skills, and team performance. Based on the feedback received, BP compares the results to predetermined expectations for the level of the leader and degree of progress.
Element 7: Interactive evaluation methodology
In order to ensure that the leadership pipeline continues to “flow” over time, an organization must monitor and adjust its actions and efforts. Successful programs possess explicit plans for monitoring and updating their programs as work, environmental factors, and team members change. Furthermore, a successful program constantly observes how many team members reside at each competency level and adjust, accordingly. It is not enough to know if you are making new leaders; an organization needs to know the composition, performance, and potential of each team member.
What does this mean?
Strong leaders rarely grow in an organic fashion in our organizations. If we are serious about improving how we deliver services, treat our most important resource, and manage resources, then we must invest in building better leaders. The last few posts captured the most critical elements of a successful leadership development program. The list is not exhaustive, but should provide a foundation for examining the their current or future practices.