Blog entry of Angelika Schrand | 10.06.2024

Leadership
Development Program

Strategically important for the success of a company
Leadership development is essential to the future of organizations. But are individual leadership seminars not enough? Why is it necessary to have a development program?
CONTUR people 4

Leadership development as a program? Aren’t short training sessions enough?

In difficult economic times, many critical decisions must be made. HR and organizational developers know that strategic talent management is essential to a company’s future success. One problem remains: Meaningful ROI figures that directly reflect the short-term success of the measures in monetary terms are rarely available.

Nevertheless, there is an understanding that leaders need to be trained. The question is, does it have to be an entire development program?

This question, and how to design a leadership development program in a systemic way, is the focus of this blog post. When this is done successfully, the benefits for the participants and the organization are obvious.

Development vs. learning:
More than just confusion of terms

The terms development and learning are often used interchangeably. Learning is described as a conscious or unconscious process of acquiring knowledge, skills, and abilities. Development also occurs both consciously and unconsciously and, like learning, is an ongoing process.

Both learning and development are influenced by similar factors such as experience, environment, and social interactions. Learning is clearly a prerequisite for personal development. But development involves much more than the learning of new skills and knowledge.

Concept of maturation

The concept of maturation is often mentioned in this context. A maturing process enables people to go beyond what they have known and to adopt a different inner attitude and new perspectives.

Development is a comprehensive process that aims to improve more than just specific skills. Applied to personnel development programs, our goal is to support participants in actively assuming their new roles, increasing their ability to act and dealing with the company’s expectations.

Holistic with head, heart and hands

It’s not just about stringing together different content and learning skills. Everyday challenges are more complex. So development needs to be more holistic.

The analogy of head, heart and hands makes this very clear.

It takes a lot of inner work to shape one’s role with one’s head, heart, and hands. This is why dealing with expectations and reflection are essential parts of the learning architecture of a development program. Inner work in leadership development contributes to developing deep self-awareness, building emotional intelligence, and shaping an authentic leadership personality.

This does not happen overnight. This is where we come full circle and see how the concept of maturation comes into play in development programs 

Kopf, Herz, Hand

A learning architecture
for sustainable success

We are all familiar with learning programs that allow you to acquire skills quickly and in a short period of time. For example, it makes perfect sense to acquire technical knowledge in a short period of time. It also makes sense to focus on one area of expertise.

But when it comes to assuming a role, or even remaining capable of acting in changing roles, things get more complex. Then it is essential to accompany the development process over a longer period of time.

 

Developing the right program: Stakeholders at a glance

Designing successful leadership development programs requires careful consideration of multiple stakeholders. We know this from many conversations with our clients. Different expectations and goals need to be met, and budgets need to be adhered to.

Different stakeholders are involved:

  • Top Management often has its own, sometimes incongruent, expectations. They want high performance at the lowest possible cost and time investment from participating leaders.
  • The works council wants to help shape the program, paying particular attention to who is allowed to participate and what tools, such as personality tests, are used.
  • HR Management takes an innovative, cost-oriented or supportive approach, depending on the focus and requirements.
  • The target group of future participants has its own expectations and needs.
  • Supervisors, both disciplinary and professional, are the critical lever for success in terms of how effectively and efficiently the participating leaders can implement what they have learned.
  • Those responsible for developing and implementing programs in the areas of HR development and talent management have different ideas and approaches: Innovative, driving, with their own clear or unclear ideas, courageous or cautious, PD-focused and/or more systemic.

The diversity of stakeholders shows that involvement in the program tends to lead to support, while “not being involved” can lead to resistance. It is therefore important to engage in stakeholder management, create transparency and enable real participation, even if it is time-consuming and not always immediately perceived as valuable. Developing a new leadership development program is a change process that requires a high level of commitment from everyone involved.

Insights from experience

I remember being frustrated early in my career because everyone wanted to have a say, regardless of their expertise. But now I know that their experiences and perspectives were important in making the development program a lasting success.

Sustainability is crucial, because it is not enough for participants to be enthusiastic. Their environment must enable them to implement what they have learned and thus create impact. That is why it is crucial to involve direct supervisors from the start.

Diversity of Methods Concept Development Program

Sustainable development concepts

The change process to make a leadership development program sustainable can be managed in a variety of ways.

Balanced Scorecard (BSC) Model

Strategic HR development aims to prepare leaders specifically for future challenges. It is derived from the company’s objectives.

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) model provides a proven approach. Based on the corporate vision, it defines financial and customer-oriented goals. They are directly linked to the necessary internal processes and structures. In this way, the model emphasizes the importance of the learning and growth perspective, which forms the basis for all other objectives.

Of trees and their fruits

I think it’s a great analogy to compare the learning and growth perspective of the BSC model to a tree: The fruits, or financial returns, can only be achieved through the branches, or customers, which in turn are supported by a strong trunk of processes and technology. But the foundation that nourishes and supports everything is the roots – the people of a company. Fostering learning and growth is therefore essential and provides a solid rationale for the content of leadership development programs.

Include identity

The link to existing mission statements, competency models and corporate values creates a framework for leadership development that should be further developed through reflection and exchange in order to come closer to the target image. Employee satisfaction surveys can also serve as a basis for argumentation.

Success is measurable

Clear objectives and KPIs agreed with the various stakeholders are essential for measuring the success of the program. A comprehensive evaluation, both immediately upon completion and 3-6 months later, makes it possible to assess effectiveness and transfer.

Key takeaways for successful
leadership development programs

Presenting the process in a clear way also creates acceptance among decision-makers who are more focused on numbers. If there are medium-term effects on staff turnover, employee satisfaction and sickness rates, transparent arguments and cost / benefit assessments can be presented. It should be noted that the development program alone is not responsible for this. A practical and transfer-oriented design contributes to success.

In the midst of the turbulent world of corporate and leadership development, the following aspects have proven to be the most successful for a sustainable leadership development program based on years of experience and proven principles:

  • Understand program implementation as a change process
  • Clear objectives and KPIs, aligned with various stakeholders
  • Integration and alignment with existing mission, corporate culture and values
  • Clarify the impact on the strategic goals of the organization
  • Design of a practical and transfer-oriented development program
    Immediate and mid-term evaluation to measure success and analyze impact

As with all projects, success depends on good planning and preparation. This costs energy and time – but pays off as the project progresses and also makes it easier to involve external partners.

We are always happy to be involved in such projects and implement your strategic HR development and employee retention with innovative learning journeys 😊.

Would you like to learn more about an innovative leadership development program or programs for other target groups such as specialists, project managers and experts? Are you interested in development programs with AI coaching?

Are you interested in an example of our clients’ leadership programs?

Please contact me – also via LinkedIn!

Autorin

Dr. Angelika Schrand is Managing Director of CONTUR. With her extensive HR and change management expertise from working in various branches and company sizes, the topics of development, change and sustainability management are particularly important to her.
Her learning architectures for development programs, which are implemented internationally in many countries, are based on the claim: Enjoy Development.

Dr. Angelika Schrand

Dr. Angelika Schrand

Geschäftsführerin

+49 511 96 96 8 0

a.schrand@contur-online.de

Autorin

Dr. Angelika Schrand is Managing Director of CONTUR. With her extensive HR and change management expertise from working in various branches and company sizes, the topics of development, change and sustainability management are particularly important to her.
Her learning architectures for development programs, which are implemented internationally in many countries, are based on the claim: Enjoy Development.

FAQ’s Leadership Development Program

?
!

Leadership Development Programs are learning journeys that help prospective or experienced leaders to perceive their roles in the company and to be able to act effectively.

The development program includes dealing with company expectations, building self-management skills, dealing with individual employees and developing teams.

Depending on the company context, other focal points and content become part of development programs. Self-reflection is an fundamental part of building emotional intelligence.

Developing an authentic leadership personality means consciously examining your own attitude.

Strategic leadership development can offer companies a variety of benefits, such as improved leadership performance through greater resilience and change competence, increased employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates or improved succession planning, where potential leaders are identified and developed in development programs.

There are different types of development programs: Talent programs, programs for experienced managers, for leaders such as shift supervisors in production or for project managers and experts.

So-called Learning journeys prove to be particularly effective when they are tailored to the specific needs of a company as in-house programs and accompany the development process holistically over a longer period of time.

When selecting a leadership development program, companies should consider several factors, including:

  • How will the learning journey be designed: How diversely will different learning methods and media be used to tap into learners’ learning preferences?
  • What experience do the learning guides, learning coaches or trainers have?
  • How are the company’s orientation and objectives incorporated and how is the cultural fit of the program with the company taken into account?
  • How efficiently are resources planned? Virtual vs presence, outsourcing of knowledge to make the time together valuable?
  • How is the transfer of learning and the anchoring in everyday life supported?

The introduction of a new development program should be seen as a change process. In addition to setting clear objectives and aligning them with corporate values, it is important to involve the various stakeholders in the planning at an early stage: top management, HR management, the works council, the participants themselves, line managers and those responsible for the actual implementation of the program.

Leadership Development Programs are learning journeys that help prospective or experienced leaders to perceive their roles in the company and to be able to act effectively.

The development program includes dealing with company expectations, building self-management skills, dealing with individual employees and developing teams.

Depending on the company context, other focal points and content become part of development programs. Self-reflection is an fundamental part of building emotional intelligence.

Developing an authentic leadership personality means consciously examining your own attitude.

Strategic leadership development can offer companies a variety of benefits, such as improved leadership performance through greater resilience and change competence, increased employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates or improved succession planning, where potential leaders are identified and developed in development programs.

There are different types of development programs: Talent programs, programs for experienced managers, for leaders such as shift supervisors in production or for project managers and experts.

So-called Learning journeys prove to be particularly effective when they are tailored to the specific needs of a company as in-house programs and accompany the development process holistically over a longer period of time.

When selecting a leadership development program, companies should consider several factors, including:

  • How will the learning journey be designed: How diversely will different learning methods and media be used to tap into learners’ learning preferences?
  • What experience do the learning guides, learning coaches or trainers have?
  • How are the company’s orientation and objectives incorporated and how is the cultural fit of the program with the company taken into account?
  • How efficiently are resources planned? Virtual vs presence, outsourcing of knowledge to make the time together valuable?
  • How is the transfer of learning and the anchoring in everyday life supported?

The introduction of a new development program should be seen as a change process. In addition to setting clear objectives and aligning them with corporate values, it is important to involve the various stakeholders in the planning at an early stage: top management, HR management, the works council, the participants themselves, line managers and those responsible for the actual implementation of the program.

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