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developing leaders

The benefits of developing leaders from within

Leaders provide assurance, resilience, and vision in a turbulent business environment. What’s more, increasingly complex and diverse organizations have a pressing need for leadership at all levels and in a variety of locations. To meet this growing demand, we require a new way of rapidly developing leaders from within the business.

A different approach to leadership training

Modern organizations require leadership across the board. Leadership roles are no longer confined to the C-suite level. The question is where to find these new leaders and how to implement strategies for developing leaders, especially in a global skills crisis and volatile labor market where talent is scarce and therefore expensive to hire.

When there’s no option to buy in resources at a scale required, the obvious solution is to resource and develop leaders from within the organization. And that entails rethinking the way we do leadership training.

Traditional training no longer fit for purpose

The traditional leadership training model requires a considerable investment of time and money. It takes potential leaders away from the workplace as they embark on extensive, outsourced training, in some cases up to a year-long MBA. 

What’s more, that training is most often aimed at the C-suite level and is theoretical, rather than analytical and practical. It’s not tailored to the requirements of a particular organization or role and is insufficient and inadequate for future ways of working and doing business.

The key advantages of bringing leadership training in-house

It’s not just the necessities of saving time and resources that make developing leaders from within so attractive. There are distinct advantages to championing home-grown leadership talent:

  1. In-house leadership programs can be targeted at filling specific skills gaps.

2. Leaders are developed within the organization’s culture and ethos meaning they better understand its needs and those of its people.

3. Leadership programs can be closely aligned with business goals and KPIs.

4. New leaders learn their skills in the environment and the context in which they will apply them, increasing the relevance of what they learn.

5. Leadership training from within allows learning to be personalized and targeted so that development time is quicker. The training builds on and enhances existing skills.

6. Learning in-house can be assessed and tracked regularly and any deficiencies swiftly remedied.

7. The cost of training is better managed, productivity sustained, and training effectiveness (ROI) more easily monitored and measured.

8. Leadership and leadership development options and opportunities are made more visible encouraging potential leaders to put themselves forward, ensuring a steady supply of future leaders.

9. As future leaders develop under the guidance of current leaders a collaborative process is established that benefits the entire organization.

Ten steps to developing leaders for 21st Century

Bringing leadership training in-house is only the first step to establishing a sustainable leadership program fit for a fast-changing business environment. The next stage is how to develop the skill sets future leaders need in the 21st Century. 

That process begins with upskilling existing leaders and getting them involved in sourcing and resourcing the leaders of the future:

  1. Cultivating a growth mindset among top leaders encourages them to see opportunities instead of challenges. It makes leadership proactive with a focus on the future which includes the development of new leaders.

2. Tasking leaders to grow new leaders means they uncover potential leadership candidates. Familiarity with people’s skills, performance, and capabilities at all levels and divisions in an organization helps create a pool from which new leaders can be developed.

3. Making coaching and mentoring a key deliverable for current leaders incentivizes them to work with new leaders. The sharing of knowledge and support creates a network of relationships that ensures leadership is distributed more evenly across an organization.

4. Offering leadership opportunities as part of personal development encourages employee engagement. Studies repeatedly show that skilled people are more likely to stay in an organization that offers them the potential to grow.

5. Bringing leadership development in-house requires an investment in budget, resources, and people. Technology offers a way to make that investment more efficient and cost-effective.

6. Embracing digital learning offers industry-standard training materials with the ability to customize training to meet the demands of individual learners and organizations’ skills gaps. Digital learning platforms facilitate easy access to content 24/7, personalization, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

7. Upskilling leaders prepares them to operate in a more diverse and distributed workplace. Key areas of competency for modern leaders include communication, technical, and analytical skills, as well as critical thinking and emotional intelligence.

8. Exposing leaders to new teams, projects, and roles helps extend and refine their leadership skills. On-the-job training gives existing and future leaders practical experience of what it’s like to lead in a new environment and gives them a better, in-depth understanding of how the whole organization operates.

9. Committing to diversity and inclusion extends the basis of leadership. Leaders can draw on the diverse experience of individuals to unlock potential and enhance the collective power of their teams with new perspectives. 

10. Leaders’ willingness to learn promotes a of culture learning. That culture makes leadership planning and leadership development more sustainable and more dynamic. 

How in-house leadership training delivers ROI 

With gaps in leadership provision so obvious and the need for agile, innovative leadership in the spotlight, the demand for leadership training is growing. Nevertheless, there needs to be demonstrable ROI for organizations to invest in an in-house leadership training program.

Here are ten quantitative and qualitative ways to measure that ROI:

Saved costs

Outsourcing leadership training to traditional providers incurs considerable costs. Estimates from the US put the bill at between $1,500 and $5,000 per participant a day. Given the episodic and lengthy nature of that training, those costs can be endlessly repeated. Deploying digital training via a learning platform works out considerably less if you consider the opportunities for re-use, re-purposing, and in-house generated content.

Increased productivity

Investing in leadership training boosts the effectiveness of both leaders and their teams. Effective, well-trained leaders drive team performance and improve efficiency. An analysis of KPIs for leaders and their before and after training will give the organization a clear view of the ROI.

Better retention

Offering opportunities for professional development keeps employees motivated and engaged. Reducing turnover saves the organization in hiring and onboarding costs in general, but effective leadership training has the positive benefit of retaining key, high performing people. These leaders offer strategic value which is measured not just in enhanced performance, but also in the way they position an organization for future business opportunities.

Openness to innovation

Modern businesses can’t stand still. Leadership training teaches problem-solving and risk analysis combined with a leadership growth mindset. Skilled leaders foster an environment conducive to innovation. ROI can be measured by calculating the number of innovative ideas leaders generate and how they translate into business growth indicates.

Greater revenue

Effective leadership training results in better decision-making, strategic planning, and spotting new business opportunities. These skills directly impact revenue generation. Comparing revenue before and after training reveals a rough, measurable ROI of growth, but analysis needs to include a breakdown of new revenue streams directly attributable to leaders’ plans and actions and an indication of their sustainability.

Improved employee morale

Better morale results in greater engagement and performance. Employees invested in a business and its values tend to be more productive. Empathetic and responsive leaders actively boost morale and positively influence employee satisfaction. 

Enhanced skillsets

Leadership training increases the range and quality of key business skills. Effective communication and active listening improve collaboration and knowledge sharing benefiting the entire working environment. Modern leadership training equips leaders to drive change and bring their people within. Enhancing the availability of skillsets makes for a more resilient and agile organization ready for future challenges.

Built-in succession

Training that develops future leaders from within the organization ensures there is a secure pipeline for future leaders. Those internally developed leaders already come with an understanding of the business’s core values, mission, and culture that is needed to lead the company forward. Planning to create leaders from within reduces the need for and cost of external hires and demonstrates from the highest level the organizations commitment to nurturing talent.

Reduced skills gaps

As businesses develop the need for new skills grows. Developing leadership training from within not only reduces an organization’s dependence on sourcing scarce and expensive talent from outside, it also enables it to develop a skills bank that can be continually expanded and its learning assets widely distributed.

Nonstop learning

Taking a critical business function like leadership training signals the value an organization places on development and learning from the very top down and across the business. Investment in leadership training and upskilling helps create a culture of learning that empowers employees to continue to upgrade their skills and become ever more effective performers.

The benefits of bringing leadership training in-house

In addition to demonstrating a clear ROI, investing in leadership training eliminates the huge risk and cost of a leadership skills gap. An organization that lacks effective leaders is compromised by a dearth of key people and skills and an inability to respond to challenges and to execute its mission. In the circumstances, leadership training at all levels has become essential. And the smart choice is to develop it and deliver it in-house.


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