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February | Leadership Development | Read time:

Leadership Development: 7 Reasons Why Every Organisation Should Invest

Skills take time to hone. Behaviour can be changed through habit. But how do we change attitudes? By investing in considered and organised programs for effective leadership development, every member of a team can benefit.

There is no seminar, no book, no silver bullet that can create a leader. Leadership is both an attitude and a skillset – and leadership development needs to take both into account. The success of your investment in your people depends on more than the quality of the program It’s about the attitude and level of support from superiors, as well as the learning style of the person being developed.

Why invest in leadership development in the first place?

Leadership development is more than a short workshop.  A good leadership development program is likely to support a highly tailored individual development plan, combined with organisational stretch assignments, team-building exercises, and some formal theory.  Coaching and mentoring are two of our most sought-after leadership development interventions. While this may seem a significant investment, the ROI to almost every area of the business starts to make a lot of sense.

1. Bottom-line financial performance

Effective leadership is an investment that reaps financial returns for an organisation. Companies that invest in their leaders deliver stock market returns 5 times higher than those that have less focus on their human capital, according to studies done by Harvard Business Review. By investing in leadership development, an organisation builds its capacity to reduce costs, drive new lines of revenue and improve customer satisfaction.

2. More power to execute on strategy

Shaping the culture and strategy of a business is integral for organisations to grow, and effective leadership development isn’t just a chance for a one-day course off-site but is an ongoing immersion into the everyday workings of the business. Organisations need a leadership development strategy that connects with the business strategy, and equips employees with the leadership skills they need to implement it. 

3. Become an employer of choice

Businesses lacking quality leadership will struggle to retain good employees, and, attracting staff in the first place. Driven, aligned leaders offer a framework to inspire employees. By being able to develop, coach and promote staff internally, businesses can reduce the costs of staff turnover and external training. Leadership teams are assured they have a team behind them that is talented, motivated and supportive. Who doesn’t want that?!

4. Navigate change and challenges

The world around us is changing rapidly, and not always for the better. Leadership development increases people’s ability to respond faster to unpredictable business environments by giving them the tools to unlock the full potential of their leadership. With an increase in natural disasters, escalating conflicts and political turmoil, as well as the everyday struggles that exist within an organisation, an effective leadership program helps build adaptability and agility, that has a trickle-down effect to all staff. 

5. Improve corporate culture

Leaders naturally perpetuate the culture of an organisation, and a leadership team is always held to a higher standard than the rest of the employees. When you welcome new members to a leadership team, you run the risk that they might not be the best cultural fit for your team, no matter if they are totally new to the business or an existing employee who has joined the leadership ranks.

When you invest the time to work and coach your leadership team through an effective leadership development program, you are able to unpack the principles of the organisation culture at a deeper level, and ensure a strong, positive culture for years to come. 

6. Increase organisational agility

A good leadership development program will not only teach the finer details of your business, but also build agility to handle the uglier side of business. Typically, a leader will already have a type of ‘mental makeup’ that tells a story of how successful they can be, but this mental makeup can be improved, or even built in the first place, with the help of a good coaching program. This program will better prepare leadership teams to deal with adversity, unexpected obstacles, and possible losses

7. Inspire your best to stay

Investing in leadership development early on has significant positive impacts on an organisation. When you begin training and coaching future leaders early on, they work together to build a level of comfort and trust with each other long before they are officially in leadership roles. A team that is on the same page, that understands and works effectively together and has risen through the ranks together, gives an organisation a significant competitive advantage.

Benefits of investing in leadership development

When leaders are equipped with the skills they need to do their job to the best of their ability, there is no limit to their potential. This potential reflects strongly on the organisation and helps boost productivity & morale, decrease turnover and improve financial performance. 

Leadership teams come away with effective tools to manage unexpected obstacles,  stronger role clarity, strategic problem-solving skills, a higher sense of accountability, a reduced skills gap (closing the gap between communication skills, management skills, leadership skills, etc.) and in a sense, a deeper understanding of their own abilities and just how far that can take them. 

What causes leadership development to fail?

Whilst most organisations reap the rewards of effective leadership development, it is possible for these programs to fall short. The problem is rarely the programs themselves (although outdated content is abundant) but within the failure to adopt a new way of thinking about learning and development. 

In leadership development, one size does not fit all. Context is a critical component when it comes to leadership, and too many initiatives rest on the assumption that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organisational culture and even the person. Leadership development programs fail when we do not equip our leaders with smaller sets of competencies to suit their individual style, and when we try to cover varying and complex sets that are easily lost in piles of corporate-values statements and acronyms. 

Leadership development can fail when there is no evidence to quantify the value of these investments. When we implement programs and then fail to revisit, question and change them, we miss out on watching them drive change and positively impact performance. 

Sterile off-site programs that teach leadership development in a ‘classroom’ scenario upset the balance between understanding leadership in the real world. Whilst off-site programs have their merits, if there’s no translation to the real world, you’ll probably get more out of giving everyone a day off. Companies should be striving to make every business project a leadership development opportunity as well. 

For leadership development to work, it’s imperative for organisations to invest in considered and organised programs that will make a lasting impact on the whole of the business. Keogh Consulting takes a holistic approach to leadership development and can help your organisation reach new heights, propelling your leaders into a successful, fruitful future.