How Does a Company Build a Leadership Development Program?

A leadership development program can help a company pave the way for a better future for its managers, teams, and organization.

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The 5 Levels of Decision-Making for Leaders

Leadership development programs are designed to help emerging and existing leaders gain new skills as they hone existing ones. Investing in development can help yours reach the next levels in their careers while simultaneously working on personal improvement. Typically, this will benefit your entire organization. For this reason, consider integrating a leadership development program plan into your company’s overall business plans.

It pays to foster employee learning while creating strong leaders who are equipped to make smart decisions and effectively run teams. Program participants also gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to create a positive and productive workplace. All of this can better position your business for marketplace competition and organizational strength, growth, and longevity.

Not all leadership development programs are created alike. Read on to learn more about the advantages, key components, and how to find online training and courses.

What are the advantages of developing leadership skills?

Companies that use their human resources departments to offer training initiatives typically find it’s worth the investment. Developing new leaders to fill senior positions ensures a steady pipeline of qualified individuals ready to take charge when needed.

In addition to eliminating leadership gaps, having a solid talent management strategy naturally leads to other positive results. Not the least of those is the ability to address common as well as specific challenges. Competent leaders who are already familiar with corporate culture are able to:

  • Enjoy smooth transitions
  • Improve productivity
  • Reduce stress and tension among employees
  • Create high employee satisfaction
  • Retain talent
  • Prevent “single points of failure”

Essentially, developing leaders from within means future leaders have the tacit knowledge that external hires can’t bring to the job. Because professional development programs help human resources teams identify potential leaders internally, they help maintain continuity of organizational strategy execution.

Because professional development programs help human resources teams identify potential leaders internally, they help maintain continuity of organizational strategy execution.

What are the keys to a leadership development program?

When developing a leadership program, there are no one-size-fits-all ways to design it, but there are common components that should be integrated. We call it DIG: Define, Identify, and Groom. The gems to be unearthed are brilliant, so grab your shovel; here’s how to DIG:

Define organizational leadership training needs

By supporting self-selected development, employees gain the benefit of personalized and targeted training. This empowers them to identify a clear path to success in their own individual journeys.

Online learning opens the door to increasing options and also enables teams to better customize any given training program in terms of time and pace for learning.

Identify future leaders

Identifying a future team leader isn’t always easy. Your organization will serve itself well by developing a methodology for identifying potential future leaders. Consider and create standards for the following elements:

  • Looking beyond top-performing employees.
  • Inviting promising employees from other departments to participate.
  • Identifying people who are natural leaders.
  • Giving people a chance to step up when other leaders are away.

Recalibrate your own radar to pick up the signals of those accustomed to flying below it.

Leaders often turn out to be people who were “discovered.” They weren’t on a traditional managerial track, but they possessed the aptitude and emotional intelligence to lead in informal ways.

Groom through mentorship

Continue to train leaders with an eye on a better future. Today’s good leaders can become tomorrow’s great mentors for the next generations. Mentorship and grooming help ensure a steady stream of willing, capable, and inspired leaders who can assume leadership responsibilities.

Training programs

Technology moves at such a rapid pace, it’s a tall order to train your people in all of it. Instead, place the training emphasis on the specific technical skills your organization needs. By the same token, prepare your team for adaptability and change management as technology advances. Take note of employees who develop a new and exceptional interest and competency in technology as well. He or she could be the next in-house webmaster, programmer or IT pro you’ve been planning to hire.

Cross-training programs benefit organizations and employees on many levels. For starters, they help ensure coverage at all times. In addition, cross-training:

  • Facilitates communication between departments
  • Prevents information from being kept in a silo
  • Grows collaboration among divisions
  • Generates higher levels of efficiency
  • Allows employees a deeper understanding of organizational mechanics

A natural result of cross-training programs is that team members gain a better understanding and appreciation of what others do. Rotational work assignments also help them add tools to their skill boxes. By this, many people discover a more clear path forward to where they want to go with their careers.

What are some of the top online leadership development programs?

Wondering where to begin offering your team members the opportunity to enhance leadership skills? You don’t have to go it alone. Plenty of well-known online programs have proven track records.

  • Dale Carnegie offers courses in a variety of in-person and online formats that cover everything from cultivating workplace culture to building relationships to “finding the blind spots.”
  • Global Knowledge by Skillsoft offers education, training, and resources in a variety of subject areas, all found in the virtual classroom environment.
  • Mind Tools offers dozens of free and paid leadership resources that companies can integrate into their training programs.
  • Coursera offers a variety of leadership and certificate programs designed to help new and seasoned leaders build and strengthen their skills.
  • edX offers free leadership courses for new and experienced leaders, empowering them to enhance their skills and organizations.

That’s a mere sampling of what’s available on the web. Indeed, Fortune, and Code Spaces all offer additional resources to explore for help building your own personalized leadership development program.

DIG deeper with tailored advice

Investing in the development of managers can be one of the best ways to build a healthy company. If you’d like to learn more about solid strategies to build your leadership training program, Zenefits is here for you. Our experts can help strengthen your organization by creating professional development programs to suit your leaders, teams and company vision.

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