All too often, we read or hear about how important it is to have leadership development programs in place. What is harder to find is the why behind the theory. We know that great leaders and people with powerful leadership skills are essential for success in business, but what metrics can be used to assess how successful the programs are?
The most commonly used metric is monetary, measuring improved profitability over a set period of time. However, this only measures leadership at the top of the organization and doesn’t accurately capture the various factors impacting the results.
Here are some key reasons why leadership development matters and what results to look for to assess their effectiveness.
Why Leadership Development Programs Matter
The most obvious answer to the question, “why do leadership development programs matter?” is simple: to create more, better leaders. Let’s take a deeper dive into that and look at some of the reasons why it’s important to create more leadership options.
With the Baby Boomers leaving the workforce, there’s a significant gap in leadership on the horizon. When these people go, they take with them years of experience not only in leadership, but in their respective industries. By implementing leadership development programs, we can do our best to minimize the damaging effects of a succession gap by getting new people ready to take the reins.
Diversity and Inclusion
Leadership development programs help to eliminate unconscious bias and create opportunities for marginalized individuals to develop and grow career-wise. This benefits the individuals partaking in the program, as well as the businesses that take the time to implement them. A diverse, inclusive company culture offers different perspectives, whether on the front line, in management or on the board of directors.
Business Specific Skills
While there are lots of skills that fit leadership across the board, there are different things that play a more important role in some industries over others. When you create a leadership development program in the workplace, you can tailor it to tie it into the skills required for running your specific business, which can give you an edge on the competition.
Changing Business Strategies
The face of the business world is always changing. Lately, there has been a shift in how businesses are structured to have more of a flat, broad approach rather than a vertical hierarchy. This approach demands more self-sufficiency and leadership-related skills from all employees of an organization. This shift in structure empowers employees to take more ownership of their work and decision-making, creating a culture of collaboration and support.
Create an Environment for Mentoring and Coaching
By implementing leadership programs and working to develop leadership skills, you can create a culture that is self-sufficient regarding mentorship and coaching opportunities. Consider bringing in an outside consultant to help implement a mentor program or coach your people to help them develop the skills they need to succeed. This is perhaps one of the most important leadership development results to watch for.
Metrics for Leadership Development Results
How can an organization measure something that is often intangible? How can they determine whether a leadership development effort is worth the investment of time and resources? The fact of the matter is that an organization will have to use a multi-faceted approach to assess the results of their leadership development efforts, which could include the following:
Many organizations make the mistake of asking for employee reviews from a management perspective. It’s rare for a company to evaluate the leadership from the perspective of the employee. 360-degree reviews challenge that approach and get feedback from various touchpoints within an organization.
Employees may be asked how they feel their superior has improved since taking leadership development programs or even how they operate on a day-to-day basis. Peer reviews are common in the 360-degree review approach.
Identifying and Tracking High-Potential Employees (HIPOs)
During the leadership development process, it can be helpful to note those who show characteristics of high-potential employees. These are the people that have the seeds of talent ingrained within their personalities and just need the opportunity to cultivate those seeds for success.
By ensuring your HIPOs are engaged and given a voice within the organization, you’ll be able to see the effectiveness of your leadership development progress by watching them as they grow (or become stagnant) within your organization. If you find yourself losing top talent, you know there’s a problem.
Clear Processes and Measurements
When implementing a leadership development program, create a master list of competencies and skills that you expect to see from leaders. Identify traits that speak to great leadership and evaluate your people to see where they fit.
If you’ve determined that strong decision-making skills are important, you’ll want to create learning opportunities to develop this skill within your people. By doing regular evaluations specific to your master list, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you are getting the results that matter.
Look outside your organization and see how perceptions change over time. Have you become a company that people want to work for? Are you being featured in publications outlining your success as a leader in an industry or as someone to watch? These are unofficial ways to get an external point of view over time.
In addition to bringing in an outside coaching consultant to provide opportunities for growth within your organization, you can also use their services to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t regarding your leadership development. By enlisting the services of a professional, you get an experienced, objective view of what to improve to better your leadership development results.
The Leadership Development Results that Matter
By implementing strong leadership development opportunities, the results will speak for themselves. You’ll have an organization where employees are engaged and productive, and where potential employees and top talent will be attracted to your organization. While it’s not the most obvious metric, you will ultimately see an improvement in your profitability and bottom line. You will have different views from a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Finally, you will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you look at your organization as a whole. What leadership development results matter to you?
Meredith Wailes is the president of Bloom Leadership, founder of SEED, and an advisor and builder of women who impact social change. Contact her via Bloomleaders.com or connect on LinkedIn to see how she can help you.