With the Great Reshuffle still happening, and hybrid work continuing to evolve, many organizations are looking to invest in their employees. One of the best internal investments companies should provide is developing their people. Employees are looking for it and organizations that do it, and do it well, create a competitive advantage. An excellent development method is to utilize structured leadership development programs. Leadership development programs are not only an investment in an individual, but they are a commitment to all employees in an organization. There are many benefits to developing people with structured programs; here are three design elements a program must-have.
#1 – Peer Learning and Outside Exposure
A critical piece of a leadership development program is the experience of peer-learning. People learn incredibly well from peers. It fosters the exchange of ideas, creates dialogue, and can produce more open discussions. We listen to peers differently than we do to others in our lives. There are those moments when conversations with peers open our perspectives to see things differently. A well-structured program design should create peer experiences.
If the program can go even further and bring that peer-learning outside of an organization, that is significant, especially for certain people and roles. It allows individuals to gain insights into the challenges of other businesses and organizations and helps participants recognize that they are not alone when it comes to many of the leadership issues they may face. Often, we hear from a participant, “you’re in a such different industry and yet experience such similar challenges.” That makes one stop and think that they are not alone, and the leadership challenges they face are not all unique.
#2 – Sustainability: Reinforcing Leadership Development
In addition to the peer-learning effect, a program will have sustainability if it is conducted over time. This is a critical factor in growth and sustainability. Each of us need chances to learn and experiment with new leadership ideas and concepts. We need the opportunity to practice in a variety of situations. Then, we need the chance to regroup and debrief. A well-designed program will be structured to maximize development and allow for the practice and debrief cycle to occur. Leadership development occurs over time and a program should leverage and enhance that.
#3 – Manager Involvement
A third key feature of a leadership development program is manager involvement. Any good development effort should have some level of manager involvement, but a program demands more of it. Throughout the program, formal and informal touchpoints with the manager provide opportunities to align on goals, gather feedback, and make progress visible. It naturally builds in accountability.
For any organization, it is important to remember that any leadership development program is a true investment in its people. The three must-haves described here enable and setup your people to grow their leadership capabilities in more effective ways, and to provide that competitive advantage every organization is looking to create.
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