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Let 2017 Be the Year of Developing Leaders Through Excellence

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
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Is leadership development at the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions for your agency? How effective is your current leadership program? If you are not exactly thrilled with the state of the leadership development efforts within your organization, you are not alone.

In its 2016 The State of Leadership Development report, Harvard Business Publishing states that 47 percent of survey respondents consider their programs “aspiring,” meaning excellent in parts while needing improvement in some areas. Another 31 percent say their programs are “inconsistent,” and 12 percent admit their leadership programs are “underperforming.” Only 7 percent of the more than 700 people surveyed report their programs to be “best in class,” although 90 percent have some sort of leadership development program at their company.

Judging by this research, we have plenty of work to do as talent development professionals. The good news is that there is a lot of help to support practitioners in developing excellent programs in service of growing the skills of leaders and expanding leadership pipelines. One way to get this help is by attending one of ATD's upcoming  Creating Leadership Development Programs Certificate courses. In this program, you will learn steps and strategies to ensure that your leadership development initiatives have a solid foundation and secure buy-in from key partners within your, or your client’s, organization.  

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Compared with learning and development professionals, business managers surveyed by Harvard Business Publishing are 32 percent less likely to see leadership development as a strategic priority, and yet we know that it is critical to the well-being and future of an organization to have qualified, high-quality leaders in place. To prevent your leadership program from being viewed as a “nice to have” aspect of the business and not as critical to its success, you can take action to make sure it is woven into the fabric of your organization’s strategic plan. Consider elements such as: 

  • having a leadership philosophy that clearly states the importance of, and approach to, leadership development in your organization 
  • leveraging the use of a charter document for your program that sets the tone from the top that leadership development is a key strategic imperative 
  • creating a clear and compelling vision for your program that serves as a rallying point to gain buy-in and use as a communication tool 
  • designing and developing program components that are the most relevant and accessible to program participants 
  • implementing a measurement and sustainability plan to ensure that your leadership program is not simply a one-time event. 

If you do not already have these elements in place for your program, or have a few of them and would like to revise or add to them, then you may want to focus on incorporating these considerations into your leadership development initiatives for 2017. The Creating Leadership Development Programs Certificate will help you get there.  
The most successful leadership programs, according to the Harvard Business Publishing report, have a few commonalities. They typically: 

  • Have an impact on organizational results and are regarded as a strategic priority. 
  • Benefit from C-suite support. 
  • Are offered for all levels in the organization, not just senior management. 
  • Develop a strong pipeline of internal talent, potentially leading to promoting from within. 

Best in class leadership programs are 94 percent more likely than aspiring, inconsistent, and underperforming programs to have a positive financial impact on the organization, and are nearly 70 percent more likely to have a positive impact on “competitive performance.” Part of being in the business of developing leaders is having confidence in what you are doing from a programmatic standpoint: that it hits the mark for participants in terms of measurable outcomes and desired skill growth, as well as for the organization from a business perspective. Easier said than done, at times. 
Do not go it alone. Some of the many benefits of being part of the talent development community and ATD include access to an excellent professional network, great content and research, and educational opportunities that support us as lifelong learners and contribute to the success of our organizations. Start your new year off right by making an investment in your own professional development and in your organization’s focus on developing great leaders for years to come. 

Learn more about ATD’s Creating Leadership Development Programs Certificate.

About the Author
Lisa Downs, CPLP, ACC, is a leadership development coach, facilitator, and consultant specializing in helping technical professionals and executives work at their best to achieve their desired business results. As president and owner of her company, DevelopmentWise Consulting, Lisa focuses on using assessment tools in her work with leaders and their teams to gain greater self-awareness of their behaviors, recognize the impact of those behaviors, and work toward who they want to be as leaders and as people to accomplish their goals. In addition to Time Management Training,Lisa is the author of Listening Skills Training and Negotiation Skills Training in the ASTD Trainers WorkShop series. She resides in Redmond, Washington.
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