Four Tips For Constructing A Leadership Development Program


According to Gallup, over 50% of managers feel disconnected from both their responsibilities and their organization’s mission. Moreover, 55% of company leaders are looking for outside opportunities. If we couple this with the fact that much of the workforce is either disengaged or actively disengaged in meeting company’s strategic goals, it is not a big surprise why so many organizations are having challenges reaching their ultimate success.

It is the senior leadership’s responsibility to invest, develop and grow organizational leaders. This will ensure those leaders are equipped to inspire, motivate and engage the workforce.

However, one of the most common failures I notice when engaging with companies is that they neglect to identify the attributes and capabilities of their own leaders. Constructing a solid framework for leadership development is the much-needed answer to achieve organizational success.

The first responsibility of the leadership team is to ensure they are getting the very best out of the workforce, and it is vital that these leaders have the proficiencies needed to make this happen.

There are four steps organizations should consider as they create a leadership development program.

1. Outline the qualities and skills of each leadership position in the organization. These proficiencies need to become the framework for mastering needed leadership skills. These skills should be outlined from a beginning proficiency to ultimate skill mastery.

As an example, let’s take the attribute of change management. This is an important skill for any leadership position. Outlining the competency of this skill may look something like this:

• Is flexible with change

• Champions change

• Brings needed change to light

• Outlines the case for change

• Summons others to the change management process

• Drives companywide inspiration and motivation to the change

• Sets the standards for developing a culture of change

2. Assess the leader’s current knowledge and proficiency in the necessary skill. If we use the above skill, we determine that our leader has a solid understanding and constantly brings needed change to light to the leaders above them. This would be the starting point for their leadership development.

3. Develop a Personal Improvement Plan (PIP). Where does the leader fall on the skill’s scale? Outline the process for polishing, growing and developing to reach the next level in the scale. In some organizations, the term PIP outlines a corrective action methodology, but this is truly an injustice to the employee and the leader alike. Personal improvement should never be outlined as a negative in any organization. When developing the PIP, remember to outline completion dates, metrics and the outcomes needed to advance to the next level.

4. Ensure there are regularly scheduled meetings with the leader. These meetings are to check up on their process, growth and advancement to the next level of competency. This is your opportunity to educate and mentor your leader.

It would also be helpful for an organization to develop the needed documentation to show skills have been attained. When I was a member of the United States Air Force, after attaining my initial training, I had to progress to the next stage in my career progression. I came out of school with the title of apprentice and had to upgrade to journeyman, supervisor, then manager. I had a training folder and as I attained the next-level skill, my supervisor would sign off on the skill and I would follow suit. This kept my upgrade training on the correct path.

If you are looking to develop a solid leadership development program, set up a similar process that allows all individuals the peace of mind that the program is successful.

Another great advantage of developing this program is for succession planning. There are times when members of an organization yearn for probable leadership positions. Members of the workforce can participate in a succession development program to work towards achieving the skills needed before interviewing for the desired position. This type of program allows members of the workforce to feel included as the organization invests in their future professional development.

Lastly, this proficiency framework can be used to grade potential candidates during the interviewing process. We can now consider how multiple candidates measure up to the positions competencies and what it may take to get them to the ultimate skill mastery. This would allow for a greater understanding of how candidates would fit into the strategy of your leadership development program.

We hear that leadership is both an art and a science. Leaders must know the science before they can paint the portrait of organizational success. Leadership development cannot be left to chance. Organizations should be proactive in setting goals, assisting in growth and achieving the very best leader possible for ultimate organizational success.

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