7 Reasons to Take Part in a Leadership Development Program

7 Reasons to Take Part in a Leadership Development Program

A leadership development program is to an organization what investment is to investors—absolutely essential. With the right leadership in place, it can ‘compound’ an enterprise’s growth by leaps and bounds.

Here’s a snapshot of the current leadership development landscape. According to research by Statista:

  • The market size of the North American workplace training industry is USD 165.3 billion.
  • The annual workplace training expenditure amounts to USD 82.5 billion.
  • Approximately 61% of US companies partially or fully outsource workplace training.

Needless to say, leadership development programs are here to stay. In this blog, we will explore the importance of leadership development programs.

But First, What is Leadership Development?

Leadership development is the process of investing in the internal growth of high-potential employees to empower them to take on senior positions in the organization with seamless ease at some point in the future.

The end goal is to future-proof the workforce and build a base of future-ready workplace leaders. A robust leadership program is typically characterized by:

  • Exposure to current management
  • Establishment of individual groups for additional support and shared learning
  • Access to formalized mentorship and coaching
  • Providing training for creative problem-solving
  • Driving performance management, change management, and effective communication skills

With businesses being forced to become agile in approach and execution, leadership development has become extremely important.

Why is Leadership Development Important?

Before you start penning down your leadership development program goals, it is critical to understand why it might be important for you in the first place.

Employees value organizations that promote the growth and development of their employees. A world class leadership program should be flexible, personalized, and scalable, offering just-in-time development and support to employees as needed. 

The Top 7 Benefits of a Leadership Development Program

The importance of leadership development cannot be undermined. Whether you’re thinking of developing a comprehensive leadership development program in-house or outsourcing it, consider the following benefits when creating a 360-degree corporate training program:

1. It can significantly boost employee engagement.

Leadership training programs are designed to help understand the current strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities of the workforce.

By focusing on what truly excites employees, the leadership programs can be customized to the individual employees’ needs while ensuring that the program is aligned with the organization’s objectives and end goals.

The more relevant the leadership program, the greater the employee engagement—both within the development program and outside of it.

In the U.S., the data indicates that a mere 36% of employees are engaged by their jobs.   Globally, this number goes down to 20%. Another survey finds that for 92% of the employees, the right kind of formal workplace training impacts their job engagement positively.  This means that an effective leadership program can be a big win for the enterprise and individuals alike.

2. It can help employees to do their ‘best.’

According to recent research by Gallup, around 58% of employees want the ability to do what they do best at the workplace. This is where a leadership development program can help.

It can provide employees with the opportunity to ‘hone’ their natural skills. There is an unmet need for greater learning for employees.  Approximately 60% of workers embarked on their own skills training in 2021.

With, Employees can be stimulated to work smarter, better, and more productively with a little bit of skills brush-up and fine-tuning. If the employees are not allowed to leverage their strengths, their potential will remain unrealized. 

3. It helps build goodwill and trust among employees.

In 2021, nearly 60% of students indicated that providing good employee training is a characteristic of a good employer.

Clearly, not providing a comprehensive training program can cause the organization to lose out on high-quality talent and have long-term effects on its revenues and productivity. 

Use-Case: Upwork takes the Road Not Taken to Build a Credible Leadership Program

Upwork assumes that the greatest developers may not necessarily be the best leaders—a fair assumption. So, its leadership development program doesn’t assume that leadership might be a natural progression for all employees. Instead, the brand runs a training system with two tracks:

The first track is for individual contributors who wish to climb the ladder within their particular field without having to manage people. They can choose to go as high as they want in their chosing field.

This empowers employees to ‘test the waters’ and experiment with their job roles without the added pressure of becoming managers.

The second track is for people who wish to be leaders and want added peer support, coaching, and mentoring. 

4. It can lower employee turnover rates as well as employee on boarding costs.

Offering employees with the right mix of development opportunities can empower them to ‘stick around’ longer.

As employees get more invested in the learning program, it will increase organizational productivity and help retain high-performing talent.

Integrating continuous learning into the enterprise’s intrinsic culture of training and development can reduce employee turnover rates. Additionally, as employee turnover rates drop, the cost of acquiring new employees will also drop. 

5. It can improve employee satisfaction, particularly among millennials.

Offering leadership development programs can increase employee satisfaction, particularly for 87% of millennials.

According to a Gallup survey, millennials actively seek organizations that provide avenues for professional growth and development.

By 2030, seventy five percent (75%) of the U.S. workforce will be made up of millennials.  Organizations that do not prioritize employee professional growth will lose out on a major segment of the workforce. 

6. It can help employees become excellent communicators.

At the core of effective leadership lies the ability to be an effective communicator. Excellent managers are great communicators.

With the right training, leaders can become proficient at providing constructive feedback to employees.  They will learn to solve problems creatively and strategically.  They will learn to motivate employees to reach their personal as well as team goals.  And finally, they will learn to proactively handle conflicts in a fair and partial manner.

This is why developing a communication-focused training program is critical to laying the foundation for a strong base of forward-thinking leaders and managers. 

7. It can provide managers with confidence and resilience. 

According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Managers:

  • 57% of workers believe that managers in their organization could benefit from training to improve their people management skills
  • 50% believe that manager training can improve work performance
  • 41% claim that their manager needed training on communication
  • 38% believed managers could be better at training and developing their teams

Another survey by Gartner claims that 45% of managers don’t feel confident in their ability to develop the skills employees need today.

Tying all these factors together, it is clear that managers need additional soft-skills training to elevate their performance.  This will positively impact both the organization as well as the employees.

Therefore, creating a leadership program that focuses on confidence-building among leaders is key. It is imperative that leaders be trained early.  This will ensure that they have the necessary tools to be both effective and confident in their leadership roles.

Use-Case: How EY Builds Future Leaders with an Innovative Start-up Program

The Ernst & Young (EY) EYnnovation program, which is active in Netherlands and Belgium, empowers junior managers to:

  • Move out of their comfort zone and join a fast-paced start-up environment.  The purpose is for them to develop soft skills such as networking, client relationship, sales training, and so on.
  • Build a wide set of skills that will be in-demand in the future.

The beauty of this program is that young potential leaders sign up for it voluntarily to develop their leadership skills in the ‘growth’ phase of their careers.

In addition, by the time the juniors become EY partners, they will have an in-depth knowledge of the field as well as working knowledge of their clients.  They would have also developed an expertise across internal networks and departments.

Top 5 Tips to Consider When Developing a Leadership Development Program

  1. Ensure that the program’s content is customized and offers modality options and variations.
  2. The program should be aligned to the business objectives and, more importantly, the employee’s needs.
  3. It should provide anytime, anywhere access to employees who wish to have the convenience of learning at their own pace and time. 
  4. Ensure the content is reliable, relevant, demonstrative, and high-quality. The addition of real-life case studies, statistics, and examples will help the learning experience to be impactful.

Tying it All Together

No two leadership programs will look alike.  Every program will differ in length and depth. Leadership development programs are a strategic imperative for organizations that wish to boost profitability.  In addition, it should focus on their employee’s well-being as well as their learning needs.

To summarize, the top-7 benefits of a leadership program include:

  • Enhanced employee engagement
  • Improved productivity and work throughout
  • Increased goodwill and trust among employees for the company
  • Reduced employee turnover and on-boarding costs
  • Improved employee satisfaction, especially among millennials
  • Excellent communication among potential leaders
  • Greater confidence and resilience among managers and leaders

Not building a leadership program can have disastrous effects on your employee’s confidence levels and impact the company’s bottom line.

Elevate your leadership development program to the next level by implementing the techniques outlined above. 

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