One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to leadership programmes. Off the shelf management leadership training courses are very effective when there is an identified individual need, for example, presentation skills. However, to substantially change or improve the performance of the senior leadership team a more sophisticated, tailored approach is required.
Bespoke leadership development programmes provide such an approach. A well designed programme takes into account the needs of the organisation, the senior leadership team as a whole and their individual requirements. It demands that there is a link between organisational objectives, in other words where the business is heading, and the development that the senior leadership team need to bridge the gap from where they are now to where they need to be.
- Some form of personality profiling is a good place to start. This needs to be done prior to any formal classroom training with the results being discussed with individuals before any group work. There are numerous tools out there to help with this. The purpose of these tests is to highlight both strengths and development areas in the team in order to be able to address any skills gaps.
- Benchmarking current behaviour and performance levels through 360 degree feedback or via some other mechanism will ensure that there is a method with which to gauge performance improvement.
- Trainer delivered modular training sessions covering the identified development areas will greatly enhance learning. These sessions need to be practically based in order to give real world results. A pragmatic approach will yield better results than courses stuffed full of leadership theories.
- Supplementary learning materials in the form of E-learning, webinars, online articles, industry led publications and suggested reading lists demonstrate a blended learning approach to development. The more information and knowledge that people have access to over a variety of mediums the better the results.
- Action learning sets provide an opportunity for leaders to work on very real and practical business issues in sub groups. This gives them the chance to share their knowledge and learn from one another as well as discuss challenges and solutions within the wider group.
- Coaching and mentoring activities enhance people’s learning and enable individuals to focus on their own specific challenges. Discussing issues with a coach or mentor also encourages breakthroughs in understanding and therefore performance.
- Developing a reference library or online knowledge base will greatly enhance the impact of the leadership development programme. Learners forget things after the learning event and busy people like bite sized chunks of information, so having this resource will be an integral part of the programme.
- Evaluating the programme is crucial to determining its effectiveness and measuring the ROI. The exact measurements and metrics used to evaluate will differ from one organisation to another but generally will include results from 360 degree feedback, performance management reviews and achievement of objectives, employee surveys, informal feedback from peers, employees and business partners and other methods.