ATD Blog

The Business Case for Leadership Development and Learning

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It is not uncommon for chief learning officers to struggle to secure funds and commitment for leadership development programs, despite the return that organizations see from such programs. I’ve been surprised and disappointed to read so many recent articles that assail the value of these programs, including a Wall Street Journal article entitled “So Much Training, So Little to Show for It,” and a 2016 Harvard Business Review article calling leadership development programs “the great train robbery.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. This blog post will arm you with the cold, hard facts illuminating the immense value of leadership development programs.

A 2015 joint study by the Conference Board and Development Dimensions International found that CEOs of global companies ranked leadership development efforts as one of their top five human capital strategies. In addition, the study highlighted that 82 percent of the people reporting to a manager who had been through leadership development training witnessed that manager’s positive behavioral changes. Improvements included leadership skills such as performance management, managing conflict, fairness, communication, building trust, influencing, and leading change. Further, 81 percent of those reporting to recently trained managers said they were more engaged in their jobs.


Here are some other very compelling and scientific metrics from the same study that prove the incredible value of leadership development and learning, all from the organizations that reported post-training changes in leadership behaviors:

  • 114 percent higher sales
  • 71 percent higher customer satisfaction
  • 42 percent better operational efficiency
  • 48 percent more product and work quality
  • 300 percent additional business referrals
  • 233 percent extra cross-selling
  • 36 percent higher productivity
  • 90 percent lower absenteeism
  • 49 percent reduced overtime work (and overtime pay)
  • 105 percent fewer grievances
  • 11 percent less downtime
  • 90 percent less rework
  • 60 percent fewer workplace accidents
  • 77 percent lower turnover.

When armed with these convincing statistics, any chief learning officer should be able to secure both funding and commitment for future learning and leadership development programs.

About the Author

Kevin Sheridan is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, a New York Times bestselling author, and one of the most sought after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement. He spent 30 years as a high-level human capital management consultant helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, which earned him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of employee engagement. His book Building a Magnetic Culture made six bestseller lists, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He also wrote The Virtual Manager, which explores how to more effectively manage remote workers. Kevin received a master of business administration with a concentration in strategy, human resources management, and organizational behavior from Harvard Business School.

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This was very insightful. I wonder if the percentages have changed over the COVID environment as we begin to go back to the office. Thanks! I think this information is still pertinent even 4 years later.
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Spot on! Thank you.
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