Leadership development programs have become a popular solution for organizations looking to groom and develop their employees into influential leaders. However, not all leadership development programs are created equal. Studies have shown that many of these programs fail to deliver the desired results, leaving participants disillusioned and organizations wondering where they went wrong. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, only about 10% of these programs produce concrete results.

Therefore, in this blog, we will uncover the 10% of leadership development programs that work and explore why they are so effective. So if you’re looking to invest in leadership development for yourself or your team, keep reading to discover the programs that truly deliver results.

Here's the 10% of Leadership Development Programs That Actually Work

Adopt the Personal Development Approach

According to an HBR study, focusing on “whole-person development” is the number one factor that makes leadership development programs succeed. The study revealed that “effective leadership development must work with and transform not just leaders’ performance of concrete job tasks, but their whole selves.”

The question now is, how do you support a person’s personal development and transform their whole self? It is by helping them develop some valuable skills in every aspect of their lives. These skills include collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, financial acumen, strategic thinking, project management, and decision-making. Developing such skills will create the bedrock for leaders to adapt to dynamic, evolving challenges. Focusing on them will improve organizational outcomes and add more excellent value to the leader, personally and professionally.

Infuse Accountability into Your Training Program

To have a leadership training program that works, you have to infuse accountability into it. When leaders take ownership of their learning, they become more committed to their development, are willing to participate in the learning process, and are urged to apply the knowledge they’ve garnered to their work. In addition, progress reports and consistent check-ins help organizations to identify their leaders’ areas of strengths and weaknesses, ultimately revealing and resolving areas in which they require help.

Accountability reinforces the importance of the leadership development program because learners get the drift and understand that the program is a priority to the organization. Therefore, the programs’ value is reinforced, and trainees take it more seriously.

Consider the Individualized Approach

You can’t adopt the “one size fit all” philosophy regarding leadership development and expect it to work. Individuals have different strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and career aspirations, and a leadership development program that considers these differences is more likely to be effective. Effective programs take an individualized approach and tailor their content and coaching to the needs of each participant. By doing this, you’ll help trainees receive the support and guidance they need to develop their leadership skills.

But how can you develop personalized leadership development programs? This can be done through 360-degree feedback, personality assessments, and career development assessments. With such assessments, you’ll identify the individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. The program can then be tailored to address the individual’s specific needs and goals. This approach can result in higher engagement, motivation, and commitment from participants, as they feel the program is directly relevant to their career development.

Allow Trainees to Self-reflect

The HBR’s study argued that one of the effective ways to make leadership development create value for trainees is “by offering them the chance to pause from the daily grind and reorient their self, work, and life.” This will enable them to move from just experiencing to understanding. No matter how good the training your employees are subjected to, if you don’t give them a break to self-reflect, they might be unable to form a workable connection between what they’ve learned and its application. It may end up being the case of a student just studying to pass an exam without necessarily understanding how the lesson relates to real-life scenarios. This is why most training doesn’t yield results for organizations.

Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats, accepted for publication by the Harvard Business School, helps to reiterate the importance of self-reflection and meaning-making. The study, “Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Can Spur Progress Along the Learning Curve,” found that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after ten days than those who did not reflect.

Integrated Learning Works

Leadership development programs that work integrate various learning methods and tools, such as assessments, classroom training, coaching, mentoring, and on-the-job experiences. With this multi-faceted approach, participants can seamlessly apply what they learn in real-world situations and reinforce their knowledge.

Utilize Online Learning

Finally, it would help if you leveraged online learning as remote work becomes more popular. Online learning on reliable platforms like eLeaP is an effective tool for leadership development programs. A distinct advantage of online learning is that it provides greater flexibility in scheduling and accessibility. Learners have the free will to learn at their own pace and on their schedule, without the pressure of keeping up with their colleagues. Online learning, in particular, is beneficial for busy professionals who don’t have time for in-person training. In addition, considering the financial strength of an organization, online learning is not as expensive as traditional in-person training. With this modern learning approach, an organization can provide leadership development programs to more individuals.

Final Thoughts

Leadership development programs are essential for developing strong, influential, and effective leaders who can drive organizations to a new height of success. Therefore, organizations should adopt a strategic approach while designing and implementing such programs so that they will birth the anticipated results. The success of these programs depends on several factors, many of which are explained above.

If organizations infuse these factors into their leadership development programs, they’ll enjoy improved workforce engagement, boost productivity, and reduce the turnover rate to its barest minimum. Investing in leadership development programs makes your leaders better equipped to achieve personal and organizational goals, stay competitive, and drive growth in an evolving business landscape.