Sunday, May 26, 2024

14 Pillars of a Successful Leadership Development Program

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What is one thing to include in a leadership development program? To help you get the most out of your leadership development programs, we asked business professionals and leaders this question for their insights. From leading with empathy to learning from others, there are several things to include in your next leadership development program.

Here are 14 things to incorporate in a leadership development program: 


  • Lead With Empathy
  • Learn From Others
  • Grow With Group Coaching
  • Discuss How to Navigate Change
  • Manage With Emotional Intelligence
  • Train to Lead With Experienced Managers
  • Offer Diverse Perspectives
  • Learn to Engage Your Team
  • Improve Your Communication Skills
  • Set SMART Goals
  • Speak With Confidence
  • Run Effective Virtual Meetings
  • Conduct 360-Degree Feedback
  • Create a Learning Environment

Lead With Empathy

With all the turmoil in the world, empathy is more important than ever. Empathy gives us the ability to see opposing viewpoints without anger, frustration, and hate.

Empathy is a superpower that can move mountains and is in short supply. It is incredible what can be accomplished with a team when you take the time to truly understand someone’s perspective, how they have arrived at that conclusion, and validating their experience.

One doesn’t even necessarily have to agree with that perspective. But at least understanding someone else’s path as valid, we can begin to turn down the temperature of our current social climate.

Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc

Learn From Others

Bring in outside case studies. Some of the best leadership development programs I have been part of included well-documented case studies of other leaders or organizations that have gone through challenging times. 

When you learn from both the successes and failures of others, it helps see around those challenges you might face as a new leader. This can be as simple as picking an HBR article to discuss as a group or providing a biography of a leader as a reading assignment prior to the program’s start.

Jenn Christie, Markitors

Grow With Group Coaching

Group coaching allows emerging leaders to learn and grow together. It can also help develop a mindset for management. When group coaching, make sure to let your emerging leaders know that it’s okay to ask questions and be sure to create an environment that is inclusive and dedicated to growth.

Andrew Bernstein, Kinder Beauty

Discuss How to Navigate Change

Include change management training that will help employees know how to deal with issues like employee turnover, unforeseen economic events, and company growth.  Leaders must know how to anticipate change and learn how to navigate around them to come out successful. The ability to manage change is necessary for any strong leader so they can remain focused on improving performance despite the circumstances.

Haim Medine, Mark Henry Jewelry

Manage With Emotional intelligence

Workplace dynamics have changed drastically after a sudden switch to remote work. Nowadays, managers need to bring their leadership skills to a new level and introduce different approaches to their management style to support their employees. One of the critical skills that leaders need to manage their teams effectively is emotional intelligence.

It’s essential to enrich leadership development programs with workshops on emotional intelligence to provide new leaders with social skills crucial for today’s workplace. Such training should teach leaders to listen to others and observe any behavior changes among their team members.

Empathy is also an essential aspect of a leader’s emotional intelligence. The key lies in finding the right balance between showing understanding towards your employees and keeping your finger on the pulse regarding their performance. Successful leaders recognize the right time to motivate their employees and know when to listen, show empathy, and provide help.

Dorota Lysienia, LiveCareer

Train to Lead With Experienced Managers

Leadership development programs should provide strong, capable leaders who have many years of experience that their students will be able to benefit from. They should also be able to work well with people and be excellent at conveying information. They must be focused on training to lead as part of the program as opposed to only teaching about management.

Shaun Price, MitoQ

Offer Diverse Perspectives

With a leadership development program, always remember that small and intimate “class sizes” matter. As such, consider having two instructors for every one prospective leader.

Moreover, make sure that each instructor offers a diverse perspective. Include he/she/they identifying instructors, incorporate instructors with varying backgrounds, and make sure to utilize leaders in multiple verticals within the company.

Lucas Nudel, Pride Palace

Learn to Engage Your Team

Leaders need to fully understand how to engage their team members, especially with retention being at an all-time low. Leaders should learn to spot the signs of burnout and be sure that each team member is in the role that is best suited for them — even if it’s not the position for which they originally applied. Team members who feel as if they have a real purpose are much less likely to respond when other companies come knocking.

Marc Atiyeh, Pawp

Improve Your Communication Skills

One of the most important skills as a leader in your ability to communicate. Whether it is in day-to-day activities, during conflict, in a B2B setting, or an internal setting, proper communication skills can make or break a leader’s success. Teaching these skills, and practicing them will significantly increase a leader’s capacity to shepherd a group.

Boye Fajinmi, TheFutureParty

Set SMART Goals

When a top employee transitions into a leadership role, chances are they have little experience with setting goals and providing concrete feedback on goal performance for their colleagues. Leadership development programs should spend a significant amount of time teaching new leaders how to set SMART goals with realistic and measurable metrics. 

They should also teach new leaders how to provide constructive feedback based on performance rather than subjective feelings. Give leaders practice by providing feedback for different levels of performance on the team.

Shelby Hiter, TechnologyAdvice

Speak With Confidence

No matter what leadership position you find yourself in or are aspiring to, you will need to be able to speak confidently in front of people. Situational public speaking should be a part of any leadership development program and focus not only on in-person situations like leading a meeting or addressing stakeholders but also in intimate small team meetings and virtual events. The more practice one can get with speaking in front of people, the more natural it will become over time.

Sylvia Kang, Mira

Run Effective Virtual Meetings

Leading a virtual meeting can be challenging. Getting everyone to participate without talking over each other doesn’t always go smoothly. 

Mastering how to moderate discussions will help you better manage the flow of conversation during your meetings. At the same time, honing this skill will provide a positive interactive experience for the team.

Summer Romasco, Ad Hoc Labs

Conduct 360-Degree Feedback

Rightfully so, most leadership development programs are focused on developing new leaders. However, equally important to this is the incorporation of 360-degree feedback for both prospective leaders and program instructors alike. 

Provide an anonymous survey that constructively provides feedback on everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. As leadership development programs are all about growth, 360-degree feedback ensures that everyone in the program is improving and being challenged.

Inesa Ponomariovaite, Nesa’s Hemp

Create a Learning Environment

One thing that should be considered in a leadership development program is the environment. The environment plays a huge role in leadership development, so it should be addressed when developing leaders. This can be done by making sure that there are no distractions where training is taking place.

Ann Young, Fix The Photo

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