The concept and practice of leadership are changing as businesses are transformed by digital technology. We need effective leadership development programs to meet those challenges.
It bears restating: leadership is a skill that can be learned and taught. Leadership development programs can identify and develop leaders at all levels of an organization. They teach leaders core skills like how to communicate, how to manage people and teams, and how to resolve conflicts. The best programs offer continuous learning and provide opportunities and resources for upskilling as leaders face new challenges.
9 things to look for in a leadership development program
- Personalization: Like any training, leadership development is most effective when it puts the learner at the center. What developing leaders need depends on their levels of experience, the challenges an organization faces, and their role in the organization. This means personalizing content and creating learning paths to meet their needs.
- Digital learning: Digital learning gives learners access to training and information across devices in a variety of formats. Digital learning offers both traditional courses and microlearning resources, allows for self-paced learning, and provides training support in the workflow. It can be updated quickly to facilitate upskilling and close any leadership skills gaps. Its mix of media, opportunities for collaboration, and the way it reflects contemporary learning habits (think social media, YouTube, and so on) make it a more engaging and effective way to learn.
- Leadership development for all: With the complexity and diversity of modern business leadership development has become democratized. We see a need for leadership at all levels of organizations. Making leadership training available to all establishes a leadership pipeline, supports career development, and promotes initiative-taking and individual responsibility.
- Leading remote teams: With more remote working you need to develop leaders who can manage a team at a distance, across locations. Technology can help reduce the gap, but you need to train leaders in the skills to ‘read’ the mood of remote teams and maintain levels of productivity and efficiency. These skills include emotional intelligence, active listening, showing empathy, and managing innovation and change.
- Opportunities to reskill and upskill: As technology advances and organizations diversify a major leadership challenge is to reskill existing leaders to make them ready for change. Leadership development programs should include training in the latest technological developments and the ways they can be used to improve efficiency. Train leaders in how to support their teams to think differently and reevaluate what they do to see if they can do it better.
- Leading for diversity and wellbeing: Studies suggest that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more creative and productive. Diversity helps businesses thrive and improves performance. Leaders need to recognize the importance of diversity and learn how to promote it. Leadership development programs should include training on how to develop a healthy working environment in which employees flourish and perform to their maximum potential.
- Focus on empathetic leadership: No modern leader can work or lead in isolation. Leadership involves teamwork. You need a program that develops leaders in the empathetic style of leadership which is more effective in building and managing successful teams. Being an empathetic leader means learning how to listen actively, be open, show compassion, use emotional intelligence, and develop a culture of inclusivity, receptiveness, and mutual trust.
- Continuous learning and development: You need leaders who can adapt to changes in circumstances. Make sure that the development program you adopt promotes continuous learning. On the one hand, that means having the ability to create, customize and repurpose content quickly. On the other it’s about having the resources and training infrastructure to build a culture of learning where knowledge is shared, learners work with each other, and learning and training are available in the workflow.
- LMSs: Learning management systems are an important resource in creating a learning culture. They offer offers access to leadership e-learning in a wide variety of formats – from full, immersive courses to just-in-time microlearning nuggets – across platforms and devices. LMSs promote social learning by allowing peers to share their expertise. Forums, discussion boards, and communities enable collaboration and teamwork.
The benefits of leadership development
Effective leadership and people management improve levels of performance and productivity. Leadership training keeps your best people in the organization by recognizing talent and achievement. Leadership development programs create a virtuous circle: by recognizing the potential in developing leaders and giving them the skills to provide good leadership, you encourage other employees to develop leadership skills.
To find out more about how to enable managers and leaders to build and develop key skills to drive individual and collective performance, access our leadership development library now.
Rob is Learning Pool’s Head of Marketing, providing marketing leadership across all facets of Learning Pool’s brand, products and technologies.
He started his marketing career in the late ’90s, with significant time spent working in the media sector and is particularly skilled in Marketing Management, Digital Strategy, Research and Market Planning.
Rob holds a Master’s Degree (MSc) in Marketing Management from Manchester Metropolitan University. He now spends most of his time working out how to clearly communicate our ever-growing range of learning technology solutions to interested audiences in Europe and across the US.
Away from the office, Rob tries to balance family life with a passion for cycling, hiking, travelling and all things outdoors.