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The 6 attributes your leadership development program needs

The most successful leadership development programs are:

According to research conducted for the 2023 Workplace Learning Report, skill sets for the average job have changed by around 25% since 2015. By 2027, that number is expected to double. Almost nine out of ten (89%) L&D professionals agree that proactively building employee skills will help navigate the evolving future of work. (source)

Unfortunately, only 26% of surveyed workers say their organization challenged them to learn a new skill in 2022. (source)

Basing your leadership development program around the actual skills you want your future leaders to use is a very direct way to make your program both more engaging to your employees and more relevant to your company’s goals.

Skills-based leadership learning paths:

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According to the 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 78% of employees expressed the need for course recommendations based on their skill gaps. Providing these recommendations as part of your leadership development program is one of the best ways you can tailor it to the specific needs of your organization and workforce. (source)

Start by having your team leads conduct a “skills audit” by listing the skills each team member has. Next, create a list of skills required for the present and future of your workplace. Compare the two lists and use your leadership development program to begin developing the skills you’re missing.

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Employees surveyed in the 2023 Workplace Learning Report said the number one reason they feel motivated to use workplace development programs is to “make progress toward career goals.” The more clearly you can tie your leadership development to your employee’s individual career goals, the more motivated they’ll be. (source)

You can do this while pursuing your own organization’s goals, as well. The secret is to translate organizational goals into skills to be developed. If you want a certain role to function more effectively, for example, focus on developing the skills in your organization that would help achieve that higher effectiveness. Then, look for the employees who are interested in learning that skill to achieve their own career goals and set them up with the resources they need. 

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Even though L&D pros say aligning their learning programs to their organization’s overall business strategies is their top priority in 2023, many of the metrics they’re using to evaluate the performance of their programs still aren’t suited for this purpose. (source)

L&D “vanity” metrics may measure relatively important aspects of your leadership development program, such as how satisfied your employees say they are with your offerings. But they rarely actually help you understand how well your program is achieving its goals.

When measuring the success of your leadership development program, avoid these kinds of vanity metrics:

  • Employee satisfaction via survey or feedback

  • Number of employees taking training

  • Employee performance on post-learning quizzes or assessments

  • Number of courses or trainings completed by employees

  • Number of hours spent learning

Instead, use these more goal-aligned metrics as your primary means of understanding performance. Make adjustments to your program to raise these metrics as you notice issues:

  • Performance review improvement

  • Promotions

  • Team or organization business metrics

  • Team productivity improvements

  • Employee retention improvements

  • Progress toward closing workforce skill gaps

  • Number of new skills learned per learner

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You’ve probably noticed how many of these attributes involve the proactive participation of management. That’s no coincidence: involving your management in your leadership development program is one of the most important steps to making it impactful.

According to the 2022 Skills Advantage Report,  91% of employees say it’s important for managers to inspire learning and experimentation. (source) Unfortunately, however, according to the 2023 Workplace Learning Report, only 35% of learners were encouraged to learn by their managers in 2023.

Once you understand which skills your leadership development program should prioritize, involve your management in the process of choosing who should learn which skills. Then, have those managers check up on skill development with their direct reports as a regular part of their meetings.

Management leadership development learning paths:

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According to the report, 83% of organizations want to build a more people-centric culture. Many of these organizations are looking for L&D to make this happen, as 81% of L&D departments now consider it a major responsibility.

Your leadership development program is one way you can help create this type of culture. Nearly eight out of ten (77%) of L&D pros said their role has become more cross-functional in the past year. Leverage this cross-functionality into a way to break down traditional team barriers. 

When you assign skill development as part of your leadership development program, pair employees from different teams and roles together. You could even have one employee mentor another as they learn a skill.

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