5 Steps to Creating A Leadership Development Program

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When I meet with a client seeking to create a leadership development program for the supervisors and middle managers of their organization, frequently they don’t know how to get started.  They realize leadership development needs to happen, and that their supervisors and managers were promoted largely because they were great at non-management activities, yet the task of transforming these managers into leaders seems too big to even know where to begin.  The following steps provide a framework for how to proceed.

  1. Determine what leaders in your organization need to do well in order to achieve your mission and advance toward the vision. These things become the key leadership competencies that will be the pillars of your development program.
  2. Analyze where your current managers and supervisors are in practicing the key leadership competencies identified in step one. What are your managers doing well, what are they struggling with, and what is not even on the radar screen for most of them?  This analysis will tell you what gaps need to be filled to build a bridge from where your managers are now to where they need to be in order to lead your organization into the future.
  3. Design the leadership development program to build foundational skills around the key leadership competency pillars, using the information from your gap analysis to determine what level of learning your managers need.  You may find some managers need to start at the very basics (even if they have been supervising for many years), while others may have some leadership acumen and simply need to hone or put into practice concepts they already understand.
  4. Implement the program by developing and delivering courses, activities, experiences, coaching, mentoring, and any other methods necessary based on the first three steps.  Always use the key leadership competencies as the guide for which courses and development experiences to provide.  Take care not to throw in any number of popular or feel-good topics that consultants may suggest simply because they are popular.  Only those courses or learning experiences that align with the key leadership competencies your organization needs should be included.
  5. Don’t set and forget.  As supervisors and managers move through the program they will learn fundamentals, begin putting these into practice, and move toward becoming better and better leaders.  However, great leaders are always learning – they know that the world continues to change at a faster and faster pace, and that development may change shape, but never ends. Your program will need to be assessed along the way to determine if it is having the desired results, and to determine if additional key competencies may be needed further into the future.  Monitoring, measuring, and evaluating performance continue the cycle.