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The complete guide to choosing the right leadership development program

Published on April 5th, 2017 by Scott Summers

You have identified a leadership gap in your organisation. So what’s the best way to fill it? How do you avoid shelling out for just another “away day” for your management teams? How do you deliver something that’s of actual value – both to your people and your organisation as a whole?

There’s no shortage of options out there, so here’s our guide on how to identify the programme that’s right for you…

Define your organisational goals

It’s about asking a simple question: “What do we, as a company, want our future leaders to accomplish?”.

A whole range of factors will influence your answers to this – including your business niche, your culture and where you happen to be in your growth cycle. Take a company that’s still very much in a state of flux following a merger; the areas to focus on might include navigating sensitive scenarios and conversations. By contrast, with a close-knit tech startup, the emphasis could be on providing leaders with the toolkit necessary to drive investment and win your first major clients.

Not all leadership development programmes are created equal. Once you are clear on what you want your leaders to do, it becomes much easier to pinpoint the solutions that are right for you.

Ensure buy-in from the top – and open it up as widely as possible

If there’s one sure-fire way to ensure that the programme binder is left untouched on the participant’s shelf, it’s this: senior leadership has little or no involvement in the process.

If senior management is complacent about the whole idea of leadership training, then how are the lower ranks going to engage with it? Get actively involved in the choice of programme to ensure your company gets the most out of it.

It’s also worth identifying a course that caters for as wide a participant pool as possible – including different departments and functions within the business. Remember; if you want to effect organisational change, it helps if everyone is on the same page.

Hunt out sector-specific expertise

Beware one size fits all programmes that promise the same experience (and the same course content) whoever you happen to be. Effective training involves making it directly relevant to real life situations – especially when it comes to sampling scenarios and case studies.

To be of value, the programme has to resonate with participants – so look for evidence of a strong track record in your industry niche.

Bespoke or off the shelf?

You’ve worked hard to cultivate a very distinct workplace culture. You recognise the need for leadership training, but you want that training to reflect what’s important to you. Likewise, you’ve identified very specific areas where you’d like the training to be focused.

In other words, you’d like the training to be tuned closely to the values of the company – something that’s entirely understandable. This ‘Bespoke’ approach happens to be one of The Skills Farm’s specialities. It’s about giving your people the breakthrough skills they need, in a way that’s tailored and co-branded to meet the needs of your company.

What happens next?

The programme doesn’t end when you leave the conference room. A great solution provider will enable and encourage a follow-up plan. Participants should be encouraged to share their lessons and ideas – giving you the ability to measure and track outcomes.

If it’s aligned to your goals, if it speaks your language – and if it offers the type of measurable accountability you’d expect with any other business service, these are all signs that a leadership development programme is worth a closer look!

The slick Training Needs Analysis that The Skills Farm ran uncovered some valuable opportunities for us and some immediate areas for development. We are now embarking on a well designed training plan that will help my team support our clients and meet our objectives. I have been very impressed with Skills Farm and their insights. I would thoroughly recommend them for any organisation wising to improve their client engagement.

Alex HawesCEOAmsys Ltd