HR Execs Share Insights on Where to Invest for Effective Leadership Development
Most HR executives agree they need leaders who can think strategically, disrupt old-school business models, and create cultures that embrace change. But how much are they willing to invest in effective leadership development? And what types of training and development are most successful?
To find out, we conducted research to benchmark leadership development spending.
The results are in, and it’s clear from the responses that HR executives believe investing in effective leadership development to build a strong pipeline of leaders is critical to the current and future success of their organizations.
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In our research, we found most respondents reported making sustained, double-digit increases in their development budgets, year-over-year. What’s more, they’re investing equally across leader levels — from first-level supervisors to senior executives.
We compiled their responses to share the 5 factors HR executives believe are critical to a successful leadership development strategy.
5 Characteristics of an Effective Leadership Development Strategy
5 Factors for a More Effective Leadership Development Strategy
1. A blended delivery approach.
It’s time to say goodbye to the one-size-fits-all model.
The executives in our study reported that the most successful and effective leadership development initiatives involve a blended approach that reflects the organization’s unique culture and business needs.
Respondents define “blended” broadly and think about it from 2 perspectives:
- Blending modalities, such as combining face-to-face delivery with online leadership training , gives leaders greater flexibility and choice in how they learn.
- Blending formal programs with informal, bite-sized alternatives, including webinars , on-demand tools, self-paced videos, leadership workshops , etc., makes learning easier to accommodate and absorb.
To help leaders navigate these expanded development choices in a thoughtful and systematic way, organizations are providing guidance on what capabilities will be needed at each point in the typical career continuum.
As one Chief Talent Officer told us, “We let anybody take anything, and we have learning maps. So, if someone wants to become a people manager, then these are the things you should be learning in the next 60 days. Our belief is that if you tell the leader what they need to be successful, then it will be upon them to use resources. It places accountability on the learner.”
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2. Broad and sustained support.
Often, leadership strategies are announced with great fanfare, but quickly fade away and become the “flavor of the moment.”
There is no consistency, no sustained support, and no follow-through from month to month or year to year, which can drain people, send the wrong message, and undermine successful leadership development.
But increasingly, senior leaders see effective leadership development as a point of differentiation that helps them retain their people, bring their corporate strategy to life, and position their organizations to weather unpredictable disruptions in the marketplace and the economy…including, but not limited to, the challenges faced given the global COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
As a result, HR executives are focused on building top-down, organization-wide support for learning across all levels — making it a part of each leader’s job. And they’re starting at the top, by engaging senior executives in modeling effective leadership behaviors and in motivating and inspiring leaders to make development a priority.
One company in our survey even reported they engage board members and senior executives as leadership development “instructors,” asking them to share their personal experiences and insights during an annual event.
A broad-based, comprehensive, all-access pass to proven leadership development training content and solutions can be very helpful to HR leaders in providing turnkey, effective leadership development that supports employees at all levels.
3. A focus on workplace realities.
The leaders we surveyed say the most effective leadership development initiatives link learning to on-the-job challenges and opportunities.
Of course, organizations must do this while also recognizing the real struggles their teams may have faced in the past few months. Burned-out, stretched-thin managers don’t have much time or energy for learning & development — or leading effectively — if their focus has been on survival. Helping employees manage their work-life conflicts was important before the pandemic, and is even more critical now.
As always, though, the most successful and effective leadership development initiatives bring leadership theory to life. When leaders know how their work supports the organization’s overarching success, their learning becomes more relevant, and leaders have a safe way to practice new skills they can bring to their work.
Our experts say these types of experiential teaching techniques make learning “stickier” and more likely to produce lasting change. They can shift a leader’s mindset and how they view the world around them — opening them up to new possibilities and to more effective ways of leading. That’s especially true if workplace-linked development is reinforced over time with networking, peer learning, and coaching and mentoring, particularly for new leaders .
4. Interaction and engagement.
Today’s HR teams are pushing development well beyond static lectures.
They’re bringing learning to life with interactive games, Q&A sessions, videos, and other techniques that keep learners interested and engaged. As a result, important ideas are more likely to break through the information clutter and capture each leader’s attention, leading to effective leadership development and lasting change.
In addition, learning becomes active, not passive. As one senior HR leader told us, “Regardless of whether it’s through a screen or face-to-face, it’s not going to be effective if you can’t stop and ask questions. Interaction is very important.”
At 足球电子竞技(济南)官方入口, we’ve found that conducting leadership development in an online learning format has unexpected benefits when the program is deliberately designed to foster authentic connections and deliver vibrant, engaging experiences.
5. Use of tools and assessments.
Learning to lead is an intensely personal experience.
Our surveys found that HR teams are using tools and leadership assessments to provide a personalized context for each leader’s development journey.
To model this best practice, HR departments identify the leadership skills and competencies their organizations need for current and future success. And they use 360-degree feedback assessment data strategically to help each leader become more self-aware.
This assessment-based perspective provides an important focal point for effective leadership development. Leaders have a clear understanding of what their organization needs, how their performance compares to their peers, and which improvements they need to make to support their organization’s success. They then can build a personalized development roadmap for their own leadership journey.
Is Your Organization Investing in Effective Leadership Development?
How do your organization’s investments in leadership development stack up, when compared to peers? Are you investing as much in your talent as your competitors are investing in theirs?
These 5 characteristics of a successful and effective leadership development strategy reflect a small portion of the rich information captured in our report, Benchmarking the State of Leadership Development Spending: Today & Tomorrow .
Ready to Take the Next Step?
We can help you build a successful and effective leadership development strategy for leaders across your organization. Take advantage of our all-access pass to leadership development content and solutions, 足球电子竞技(济南)官方入口 Passport™ , which gives you unlimited access to our most comprehensive package of proven, transformative, research-based leadership solutions. If you license our content , you can bring our proven research, programs, and tools in-house to leaders at all levels of your organization.