How to Choose the Right Leadership Development Program

by Susan Mazza | Posted | Leadership

How to Choose the Right Leadership Development Program

When it comes to leadership development, there is an abundance of fantastic books and programs available. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that one size does not fit all.

With so many options to choose from, how can you make sure you are choosing the best program for you?

Here are 3 steps you can take to ensure you choose a program that is a good fit:

1. Get Clear About What You Want to Accomplish First

Of course, there is much to learn when it comes to leadership that falls into the realm of “what you don’t know, you don’t know.” The discovery process is both exciting and valuable. The theory is useful and important, but ultimately the measure of success of a leadership development program is in the impact it makes on your effectiveness as a leader.

Getting clear about what you want to accomplish before you evaluate programs will help you find a program that will give you at least some of what you already know you need. It is also immensely valuable to make a commitment to produce specific results or develop in specific areas or skills after you complete any program. This helps you stay accountable for putting what you learn into practice. You may even find that you are better served by focusing on a specific skill area rather than a more general leadership program at this time.

2. Seek a Match for Your Leadership Philosophy

There are many leadership philosophies, such as servant leadership, collaborative leadership, and authentic leadership. Take the time to learn more about the philosophy and underlying belief system behind the programs you are evaluating by reading blogs and books related to the programs or coaches you are considering.

You may be interested in learning about a new philosophy of leadership, but you want to make sure that both the program and the trainer or coach is a good fit for you. Consider that the topics covered and the overall design of the program are important to evaluate, but that it is the underlying philosophy and approach that will determine whether it resonates with who you are and what you believe.

3. Choose a Delivery Method Optimal for Your Learning Style

Do you benefit most from practical, hands-on experiential learning or do you enjoy self-reflection and theoretical conversation? Do you learn best through an immersive learning experience over a few days or do you prefer to spread out your intake of new material so you can learn and apply over time? Given what you want to accomplish, do you need specific new skills, types of knowledge, coaching support, or all three?

A great leadership development program puts as much attention on delivering a high-quality program as it does on ensuring you will be successful in applying what you learn over time.

Keep in mind that you can consume a lot of content that is useful and valuable in any program, but in the absence of an explicit conversation about how you will know it has made a difference, you run the risk of collecting “shelf help”—those beautiful binders of material that sit on the shelf never to be opened again.

So, whatever program or delivery mechanism you consider, these steps can help to ensure that you get what you need to take your leadership to the next level in a way that is meaningful for you and positively impacts your performance when you return to your everyday work.

Employee Development Templates

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Employee Development Templates

Help your managers prepare to give truly helpful and effective feedback with these templates.


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