How to prevent Leadership Development programmes failing

Why do some well-planned leadership development programmes fail? When a team of business leaders and experts in their field come together to create and impute a well-thought out programme designed to develop their younger less experienced colleagues into the company’s future experts and leaders, why does it not always work as effectively as they hope it will? This problem usually comes down to 3 important things: Adaptability, Individual Development and Real-Life Application.

A leadership development programme no matter how well planned, must be adaptable. The programme must allow for self-corrections and modification as nothing works in the real world exactly as it is expected to in theory. Everyone learns and works in a slightly different way and a programme that not only makes allowances but celebrates this will be far more effective and nurturing. A leadership development programme must include real-life application, this not only better prepares the talent, making the future results better but also helps gain results while the programme is running. By remembering to keep your well-planned leadership development programme adaptable, connected to the individuals and involved in real-work, you can greatly reduce the chance of your programme failing.

When building a leadership development programme, most people put a lot of thought into what they want the programme to achieve and the steps they will take to achieve this goal. This is very important but it is equally important not to get stuck in your original plan, you need to give your programme time to adapt to the company, time and everyone involved. A leadership development programme should certainly begin with clear objectives and a plan of action but the plan must have options and enough wiggle room to allow for necessary and experimental change. Even if your leadership development plan appears to be working effectively, it is still worth changing and developing the programme to see if it can get better. An adaptable leadership development programme will grow with the company and employees to make it more effective for a longer period of time. Adaptability does not mean allowing for standards to drop but rather that with change and experimenting we can meet the programmes goals more effectively.

Leadership development programmes have different goals but they all share one key aim: that they want to develop their current talent into their future leaders. Therefore, whoever is designing and running the programme needs to consider their employees in every decision. This means thinking of them as individuals as well as a joint entity. It is reasonable to aim your programme at the average of your group, but if this is not flexible enough to be modified to fit each person then it will not be nearly as effective. This could not only cause the programme to fail but it could also cause you to alienate and lose the employees you are trying to develop.

A leadership development programme can avoid common mistakes by making sure that their programme includes real-life work. This is a huge advantage for two reasons: firstly it allows the employee to gain more world experience in this field and develop their confidence in themselves and the team around then. Secondly, including real-life experience in your programme means that your employees are currently contributing to the company as part of the programme not just preparing to contribute at some point in the future. Leadership development programmes that include real life experience allow employees to grow into their skills and match the specific skills taught to those the individual needs. Applying an idea to the real world is often the best way to fully understand and remember it. Applying these skills in the real world also helps the programme leaders accurately monitor the individual by the impact they are making, allowing them to adapt the programme when necessary to make overall and individual improvements.

So, if you are currently using, creating or thinking about forming a leadership development programme you can avoid the most commonly made mistakes by making sure your programme is adaptable, focused on the individual’s development and involves real-life experience. If you maintain these three things your leadership development programme is much more likely to be a success.

Do you have more ideas on how to prevent a strong leadership development programme from failing? Please share your comments below.