Why Your Company Needs a Leadership Development Programme

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Leadership Development is Important for Every Organisation

There is saying which states, ‘A bad manager can take a good staff and destroy it. They cause the best employees to flee and the rest to lose all motivation.’ Employees want to work with good business leaders. They want to enjoy their time at work. When employees must deal with a bad manager, they are no longer motivated.

Good pay or benefits cannot influence them. Consequently, one bad leader in the company can make it difficult for your entire business. As a result, you might have higher absenteeism and lower engagement. Your business may also have increased staff turnover. Furthermore, you may even have a difficult time recruiting. It is, therefore, essential that your business has a strong leadership development programme in place.

The Importance of Strong Leadership

According to a Perkbox employee disengagement survey conducted on 2000 UK workers:

  • 41% of UK employees feel aligned with their company goals.
  • 36% of employees are likely to leave their jobs within one year.
  • 23% of employees believe their management team contributes toward a negative environment.

A quarter of these 2000 employees don’t believe in their managers. Employees who don’t feel engaged at work tend to only go to work for the money. They aren’t proud of the company. Also, they aren’t telling everyone how great it is to work there. In fact, they are telling everyone how miserable they are!
Strong leadership is crucial. By creating a strong leadership team, you create a safe and happy place for your employees.

Strong leadership starts at the top. It filters down and it drives employee engagement. Also, strong leaders inspire others to do great work. They promote and encourage others as well.

Strong leaders look for improvement within their department and other departments. They want people to win. They want the company to win. Because of this, leadership development for new and existing managers is important.

‘The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.’ – Ronald Reagan.

Common Failings of Weak Managers

How many times have you left a company because of your manager? We have all worked for a bad manager at some time in our lives. Bad managers don’t see themselves as weak bosses. A survey conducted by CV-Library of British workers found that some of the worst traits of a bad boss are:

Poor People Management Skills

68% of respondents said weak managers have poor people management skills. Typically, these managers aren’t trained properly. They don’t know how to work with people as a leader. Many times, they will blame their employees when something goes wrong.

Poor Communication Skills

36% of respondents stated that poor communication skills were common traits of weak managers. Often, these managers aren’t being completely honest. They just want the work done quickly and don’t take the time to talk to their employees. They simply bark orders. These managers aren’t communicating well with their subordinates.

Showing Favouritism

8% of the survey respondents said that weak managers often show favouritism. They have their favourites and everyone knows it. This creates an environment of distrust.


Lastly, 6% of respondents said that weak managers are often unprofessional. For instance, they may break rules or they may bully their employees. The only way they feel they can get employees to respond is by threatening their jobs. They are usually egotistical as well. These are the managers who focus on their own problems. They want a lot of praise. Typically, they can be selfish, micromanaging, and very controlling.

‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ – Richard Branson.

Leadership Development Programmes Failing?

Most companies have training in their budget. Interestingly, U.K. employers spend less on training than other major E.U. economies. This has led to a ‘skills crisis’ through a shortage of skilled workers. Nonetheless, all companies want to train and develop their employees. However, many leadership training programmes are not working. Why?

Poor Implementation of Training

Only 12% of learners apply the skills from training to their job. They learn these new ideas and approaches when they are in the training class. Once they return to work, old habits return. In a word, the training fails to stick.

Poor Selection of Training Programme

Often, new leaders will be given an ‘off the shelf’ training programme. The company likely has a leadership training budget. However, often, the HR team finds a low-cost training programme. They make sure it falls within the budget but may not be very good. It is just a generic program after all.

Training Lacks Company (and Industry) Relevance

The company may need new and existing leaders to attend the latest programme. But, this new programme has no relevance to the specific daily challenges the company faces.

Sudden (Unplanned) Promotions

Employees may move into a leadership role suddenly because someone has left. Alternatively, workers often reach leadership roles because of their individual successes. For instance, they may have had top sales or had significant technical accomplishments. For this reason, not all leaders are developed.

These workers will have likely attended an online class or seminar to learn some leadership skills.  However, they may not know how to apply their new skills as they haven’t been specifically groomed for their leadership role over time. Most likely, they will have just attend the class so they could move into a new role and appease HR. Consequently, they may have learned some qualities of a good leader but don’t fully know how to apply them.

Lack of Accountability

All leaders need accountability. Businesses may fail to track and measure changes in performance over time. How does this affect improvement initiatives? Training objectives must tie into performance measurement.  They must be applied to the performance review. Also, senior leaders of the company may not lead by example. If a new middle manager attends a leadership training class, the senior leaders should support it.

They should support the new concepts that come from it. Unfortunately, bad senior managers may even make fun of the training. These managers are probably afraid of change. They may have been bad managers for years. They, very likely, don’t think they have been doing anything wrong.

Benefits of Good Leadership Development

Developing good leaders can make the business more proficient. It can aid professional development. It will also help interdepartmental communication.

Most people want to work for a company that promotes from within. They want to know that if they work for that company, they will have opportunities. They want to know that they can advance within the company. Therefore, the company must develop a good leadership programme.

What Are the Benefits of a Good Leadership Development Programme?

  • Increased productivity. Employees with good leaders produce more. They enjoy going to work and want to work hard for their bosses. Increased productivity means more profit for the company.
  • Increased employee engagement. Engaged employees are happy with their job. When people are happy, they become more innovative. They want to drive results for the organisation. If workers are happy and performing well, they will do more for the company.
  • Positive work culture. People want positivity. They want to look forward to going to work. They want to be a part of a positive culture. Which do you prefer? Going to work and listening to your manager vent about the day? Or going to work and listening to your leader talk about the upcoming opportunities?
  • Better decision-making. Good leaders make good decisions. They give their employees opportunities to make good decisions as well. They empower their employees and the team wins.
  • New leadership follows existing leadership. When engaged workers are productive and have a good leader, they are learning. This is the best type of leadership development.

When great employees want a promotion, they will look at what their leader is doing. They will say to themselves, ‘I want to be just like him or her.’ Motivated employees want to learn from the best. If a leader leads by example, hiring becomes easier. When you have good leaders, employees will flock to the company. Word spreads fast.

We all know a company in which we don’t want to work because of management. We also know a good company where we want to work because of its leaders. Good leadership draws in great workers. They will be productive, engaged, and enjoy their jobs. This will help to keep them and prevent staff turnover from your company.

How to Develop Your Leaders

It is essential to employ a good leadership development programme. The best method will involve training those from the top down.  In essence, everyone should then take part in applying those leadership skills.

A hand holding some soil and a growing plant represents leadership development
All leaders are not equal. Leadership Development gives you the skills to grow into an excellent leader


But, how should a company develop their leaders?

  1. The company needs to identify the qualities of leadership skills it wants. They need to find out exactly why they want these great leaders. The organisation should also think about where they want to take the company. They should invest in the future.
  2. The organisation needs to know the benefits of hiring and keeping the best leaders. They should know a company will be more productive with good leaders.

A good leadership development programme should always originate from the top. If an HR team member is the only one who wants to install a training programme it will not work. The senior leaders should support and embrace the new leadership development programme. If the senior leaders are not embracing a good leadership programme, then it will likely fail.

Implementing a Leadership Development Programme?

1. Identify Current Managers Needing Development

Start by reviewing company surveys, exploring focus groups, and even online review sites. They will help find the weakest links. Then, find out exactly what skills these managers need and install performance improvement plans for any skills wanted. Any new leadership development programme should tie to performance. This is because some managers will only apply the required techniques, so it is important to tie to performance.

2. For a New Leadership Programme to Work, Change Management Is Crucial

Structure and carry out change wisely. Plan your strategy of communication and change. Installing a new training programme may scare people. Those who are afraid of change will resist so you should design it carefully. Consider moving managers out of the company who consistently resist change. They are probably some of your weakest leaders. Consider hiring some change agents. They are the ones that like the idea of something new. They are happy to influence others and challenge the old ways.

3. Once the Senior Leaders Embrace the Need for Training, Communicate the New Plan

Everyone in the company should hear the new training strategy. Also, they should know the company wants to invest in its employees. Employees should know the company’s commitment. Those who are thinking about leaving may stay. Especially if they know that some changes may be coming.

4. Train Leaders About Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman wrote a book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’. He says, ‘Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.’ He believes that emotional intelligence is critical to be a successful leader. He says in his book that emotional intelligence involves being smart about emotions. Leaders using empathy effectively empower and engage employees.

Purple infographic shows the five areas of Emotional Intelligence by MBM
Emotional Intelligence as a factor in Leadership Development

5. Look at Developing Current Employees into Leaders

You should want leaders who fit with the organisational culture. Developing existing employees who already ‘fit’ is a sensible and cost-effective approach. Succession planning is necessary for all organisations. It identifies and develops future leaders at your company. Succession plans address the changes which occur when employees leave your organisation.  This helps make sure businesses prepare and are ready for when change happens. These plans help a company identify and train workers. It helps them prepare for advancement into leadership roles.

Final Thoughts

Hiring great leaders is important, but so is developing existing or future leaders.
Employees should always know the company expectations. They need a good leadership development programme. They should go through training before promotion. Development is key to exceed expectations.

Make sure you develop those who have been in leadership for years. Develop those you are considering for management. Find your workers with great aspirations. They are the ones telling their managers they want to move up. They want to stay with the company. This should be part of your succession plan process.

Harvey Firestone said, ‘The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.’ He is right. Find the leaders in your company. They are the ones that want training and development for their people and for themselves.

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