“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” — Ralph Nader
It’s highly profitable to train the next generation of leaders. These leaders develop a love for your corporate culture, they train emerging leaders and recruit like minded people into your organization while improving its cohesiveness.
All of the above is a recipe for driving innovation, growth and sustainability of the organization. The return on investment is undeniable.
Adequate leadership is rare these days. But with the rapidly increasing shift to virtual reality, that’s about to change to the detriment of large corporations.
Leadership is being redefined and redistributed amongst a larger swath of people. People are jumping at the opportunities to become leaders and entrepreneurs in their own right, building small businesses and organizations around their interests from the ground up.
It’s important that existing organizations or even start-up companies get a head start on the reinvigoration of corralling and keeping star leaders in order to drive growth and momentum in their respective fields well into the future.
Benefits Of A Well-Managed Leadership Development Program
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” — Henry Adams
There are a multitude of benefits to building a well-run leadership development program.
These benefits include:
- Objective examples of leaders that up and coming leaders can follow — this makes it much easier for emerging leaders to know what is expected of them.
- Increased team engagement when leaders effectively know how to influence people through their leadership — the more engagement you have within your team, the more mental resources you have to complete projects.
- Cultivation of corporate culture which leads to a boost in morale.
- Enhanced productivity from learning and understanding how to coach individuals to meet their true potential. Coaching is one of the various communication styles that merges teaching and advising to edify individuals.
Now that we know the benefits of leadership programs. What are the components of a successful leadership program?
When I started my position as a union steward, I attended various programs that helped improved my communication skills. Communication is the “bread and butter” of effective leadership and should take top priority in any leadership program.
A communications program that instructs leaders on 8 basic communication styles. This part of the program should be tailor made to suit each emerging leaders personality.
It should also strive to strike a balance between the emerging leaders disposition and various scenarios of a specific type of individuals(employee’s) mode of receptivity.
This program should train leaders in basic: public speaking, writing and active listening skills including body language.
Communication training should also teach various conflict resolution skills in order to prepare emerging leaders to deal with disgruntled employees. This type of training would, ideally, emphasize top tier emotionally intelligent tactics.
Experienced Instructors At The Forefront Of Leadership Education
Instructors with years of experience in leadership is essential. This can be a three instructor set up with one strong, objective leader and two other leaders who have years of experience between all of them in different roles and capacities. The more the better.
These instructors should know the difference between leaders and management and should be able to convey this to the student leaders.
The instructors should know how to pull from multiple sources and disciplines to make various points in leadership educations.
For example, an instructor that has a background in engineering should also be able to pull from soft sciences like philosophy and sociology to validate specific points.
Multiple Methods Of Learning Leadership Material
Each emerging leader will have a different style of learning. This program should have facilities that are prepared to teach students through a multitude of mediums.
This element will also serve as a way to spot which mode of communication a student leader will be versed in.
For example, if they are good at learning visually, they are more than likely able to lead through a visual capacity with various tools.
If they are more receptive to auditory learning, they’ll probably make good public speakers.
A Rewards System
Objective goals and milestones as well as accolades and certifications are essential for anyone participating in any kind of training program. It’s good for positive reinforcement and motivation. This is especially true for people with leadership potential.
Emerging leaders may have reservations as to their confidence in leadership. This program should provide reassurance that they are doing the right thing by stepping up into a leadership role.
Rewards and certifications should be in place to provide the necessary accolades to spur motivation and momentum.
Reliable Methods For Identification Of Future Leadership
When I worked for a package and delivery service, within 1 year of employment, management was able to spot my talent in: communication, influence, demeanor, courage, all of the things that makes for great leadership.
They quickly tried to “promote” me into a subordinate supervisory role which, if I had accepted, would have nipped my leadership career in the bud.
Your leadership development program should have the same eye for identification of emerging leaders because the current student leaders will eventually move on to other companies.
There needs to be an effective mode of replenishment of leadership throughout the program because, inevitably, the leaders you train will move onto other companies.
A Retention Program
Retention program for preserving and keeping leaders within the company is a very important aspect of any leadership development program, especially ones that have certifications in place.
The last thing you want is training leaders then having them ship off to competitors.
As a leader who moved on from a company that couldn’t meet my worth with proper compensation, value and culture, I can tell you that it’s cheaper to provide incentives for keeping the leadership you’ve put time and money into developing.
They’ve already assimilated within the corporate culture. Letting them leave now would be a huge waste.
This component should provide “continuing education” for leaders once they graduate from the program. This continuing education should be fortified with the most up to date information and research in organizational psychology.
This way your leaders will not only get continuous value from working for this company, they’ll also provide value by being able to adjust to the times and the types of employees that are hired from different backgrounds and generations.
This is especially true when we take into account the emerging workforce of Gen Z. You’ll need to retain talented individuals to fill roles in 21st century leadership.
Whatever it is you want to educate your emerging leaders on, you can do it through eLearning software.
With more millennials and gen Z flooding the job market, these tech savvy individuals will be looking for engaging, fast paced ways to learn skills on the job. The best way to do this is through eLearning.
With eLearning the process is efficient because you have complete control over content and the distribution of that content in order to teach emerging leaders the skills they need for leadership. The benefit is that you can also tailor this content to your organizational needs.
There should be a mandatory reading list in place for participants. This list should be comprised of 100s of books on leadership education, one of which should be chosen by the student to study and apply through the duration of the leadership development program.
Reading is crucial for leadership in a world that is constantly evolving. The habit of reading to keep up with the flux of the ever changing professional landscape is a must have for leadership success
A Final Note
While the above components aren’t guaranteed to give you a return on investment in each and every individual, they can bring out the full potential of leaders.
In doing so, you’re setting your organization up for widespread benefits with strong leadership development embedded within your organization.