Organisations spend huge amounts on leadership training programmes even though most have no way of knowing whether or not they actually deliver any value. It’s a serious issue because many studies show that such training does not always deliver long-term results, for example:

  • Around 20% of adult learners never apply their training to their job
  • Nearly 67% of adult learners try to apply their training but revert to their previous habits
  • Adult learners in a lecture setting forget nearly 50% of what they learn within two weeks

Ineffective training wastes time and money, even more so when it comes to leadership programmes that fail to deliver results. And it is not just about having all the bells and whistles because even the most exciting and entertaining training programme can fail to create effective leaders. Here are some steps you can take to create a strong foundation for developing a rich, enduring leadership development programme that actually creates better leaders, thus delivering a measurable return on the investment in it.

Successful leadership training programmes have clearly defined outcomes

Before developing a leadership training programme, be clear about exactly what it is that the organisation requires from this training. The more specific you are, the more likely you will identify the true training opportunity or the true organisation development problem that needs solving. For example, is there a specific situation in the organisation that requires leadership? If there is, then what changes would you expect to see as a result of the training?

 Also consider the leadership training programme’s relationship to the organisation’s desired culture.  Again, be specific about any changes that are expected as a result of the training.

Successful leadership training programmes are strategically aligned

Organisations spend millions of dollars training managers to lead, but surprisingly few run return on investment studies on these interventions to ascertain what – if any – value was actually delivered from their expensive training programme. An organisation can spend a large amount of money yet have no way of determining any real monetary gains to their bottom line.  So, before spending a cent on training, specify how it will support the organisation’s purpose and goals. It is far more effective to focus on specific leadership skills that are pertinent to the organisation’s vision and performance targets and then carefully tailor the programme’s design to them. 

Successful leadership training programmes recruit the right talent

Although ‘leadership’ can be defined as a set of behaviours, all of which can be taught, it does not automatically mean that applying those behaviours automatically yields leadership. It can be argued that leaders are born, not made, drawing upon a combination of their innate strengths, and learned knowledge and skills.

When considering who to put through the leadership training, be very clear about what the organisation defines ‘leadership’ to be. Once that has been defined, then consider the potential training candidates and ask yourself:

  • Do we want them to actually lead?
  • Do they have the innate talent to become leaders? For example, do they have charisma, intelligence, strategic thinking capability, etc?
  • Will the organisational structure allow the people to lead and is it set up to permit leaders at lower levels in the organisation to actually lead?
  • Should all of the organisation’s leaders and potential leaders be developed, or only a few of them?

A leadership training programme should be viewed as the beginning of the leadership development process, not the end. Putting steps in place to ensure there is a transfer of learning into actual, measurable, behaviour change will create a successful and sustainable programme that delivers long-term results.