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What is a Leadership Development Program?

There are problems in your organisation. Mistakes and incidents are happening, it’s reducing productivity and even causing financial loss.

Yet, everyone is highly skilled in their respective areas of expertise. So why are these dangerous mistakes occurring?

Perhaps it’s time to look to the leaders and how they are leading.

In the same way hard skills are maintained and improved, soft skills such as leadership also must be maintained and improved.

When Leaders are operating at their best, it leads to improved work cultures that promote ownership and belonging in the workplace, resulting in less mistakes and incidents.

So how does this happen? How do Leaders improve their Leadership and start operating at their highest potential?

The answer is a Leadership Development Program

Leadership Development Training

A LDP (Leadership Development Program) is a scheduled course of learning, activities and actions designed to better a Leader in the way they Lead.

LDPs can be delivered internally or externally. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be exploring the process of a LDP designed by an external provider.

However, the ultimate goal of any LDP is for the Leaders to use the skills and tools they’ve learnt to continue development after the external provider has exited.

Effective Leadership Development Programs

An effective LDP starts with a co-design. The external provider must come together with the organisation to custom build a program that is relevant to their needs and establishes a clear purpose. This can be done through workshopping where a journey plan is created which includes a schedule.

Although each Program is tailored to that organisation, there are set orders of the events and activities that shape how the program journey progresses.

The Context

This is the first phase in a LDP, in which Leaders are provided with context which explains Leadership skills and the attributes that sit within those skills. Theory is delivered in these workshops.

The Practice

Moving on from the context and theory, it’s time to put that information into practice. Leaders are provided with simulated and real environments to try these new skills alongside a LDP coach who will give feedback.

Simulated vs Real Practice Environments

Often in LDPs both training environments will be used. A real environment where the Leader goes into the field to put their new knowledge into practice, with the overview of a Coach, is always preferable.

However, depending on the cultural issues within the workplace at that time (which the LDP is in the process of solving), a real environment may not always be suitable, especially in the beginning stages of the program. A closed, highly reactive and/or conforming culture may not be the best place for Leaders to utilise new skills; this is where a simulated environment would be created.

Creating Tension

Creating tension may sound problematic but in the case of the LDP, coaches will develop a unique tension with Leaders that will in turn encourage them to push out of their comfort zones. This might occur where a coach will help prompt the Leader to think deeply and reflect on what’s been practiced. The coach may do this by providing the Leader with questions to ask themselves and others.

Leadership Assessment Processes

There are several tools in the form of surveys which can be used in LDPs to evaluate how a Leader perceives themselves and how others perceive them. At the start of a LDP journey, a Leader may undergo a personal psychometric assessment to provide insight to strengths and weaknesses apparent in their Leadership. Their colleagues may also provide feedback about the Leader through similar survey tools or through anecdotal evidence collected by the Coach.

The assessment processes are great indicators of progress and change as they can be repeated again after the LDP or towards the end of it.

The Time it Takes

Chances are that at some point in your working life, you’ve had to attend a mandatory one-day workshop on Leadership skills or something along the lines of improving an element of work productivity. Although some useful tools and skills may be imparted in these workshops, they are never enough to create sustainable change. Each of the stages in the LDP journey is a made up of numerous activities, such as regular one on one coaching sessions. Considering this, effective LDPs take a minimum of six months to complete. Some LDPs take years to complete, depending on the size of the organisation and what they are trying to achieve.

Transferring Knowledge and Skills

The final stage of the LDP comes once the Leaders have been transformed and are actively practicing their new skills in the field without the direct assistance or guidance from coaches (the coaches may be providing support and guidance remotely). 

To ensure the Leaders and Organisation don’t slip back into old habits, known as ‘blackholes’, the coaches will build the Leader’s capability to measure their success factors. The Leaders will then be empowered to continue to work on their Leadership skills while maintaining the high level of Organisational Cultural Maturity that they built up during the LDP.

Effective Leadership Development Programs

Unlike the development of hard skills which have defined and clear courses of learning, the development of Leadership skills is a personal and individualised journey.

Leaders may thrive in some of these effective Leadership areas yet falter in others. This is why the most effective LDPs are designed in collaboration with the Organisation and its Leaders.

An ‘off the shelf’ or ‘out of the packet’ LDP will not be effective in creating real change or positive outcomes in your organisation. Similarly, one off workshops are also not enough to create sustainable change or provide Leaders with the tools they need, and practice, to better their skills

If you’d like to Learn more about Leadership Development head over to our Leadership Development page. To see how Barclayss® has delivered successful Leadership Development Programs for other Organisations, view our Case Studies here