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Why leadership development training is the making of your managers (at all levels)


Not every great leader planned to become one, but they’ve probably been on the receiving end of some great leadership planning! Whether it’s being paired with a great mentor, given the chance to lead on a project or sent on an amazing course, leadership development training is so often the making of a magnificent manager.

And the design of your leadership development program is crucial to getting it right. You want to provide training that isn’t pitched too high, so as to scare people off, but isn’t pitched too low, or else you risk losing their interest. All of the time, you’re keeping in the mind the formats and initiatives that work for people within those relevant and realistic guidelines.

It’s not an easy job, but you’ve got this — and we’ve got you too.

Leaders at different levels need different types of training

If you’re rolling out one-size-fits-all leadership development training, you’re unlikely to give anyone what they actually need. Like all good things in life, offering bespoke programs takes more time, but it’s well worth the investment!

Everyone likes to feel like they’re being given the red carpet treatment, so think of your learners as workplace movie stars. Back when people really believed Mission Impossible meant impossible, Tom Cruise probably needed a lot more guidance than he does with the franchise approaching double digits! 

Imagine a naive director trying to teach him to suck eggs on set – that’s how well a one-size leadership program would go down. Instead, think about where people are in their journey and where their missions probable and preferred need to take them!

Leadership development training for today’s rising stars

First up on the list, training and developing high-potential future leaders — an essential practice for the long-term success of your organisation.

Why? Because promoting from within not only offers people the progression carrot they crave, it helps them stick around and can be far more cost effective. Someone who knows the company inside out might be able to hone their leadership skills faster than a great external leader could get under the skin of the business. 

Of course, this is a process that starts with small steps! Leadership training at this level could include:

  • A program of self-assessment exercises, to help them work out the type of leader they want to be and you identify their skill set.
  • Helping them craft the necessary management skills in practice (you can put them in charge of an internal initiative, for example).
  • Supportive, interactive group sessions.
  • One-to-one mentoring with a leadership and development coach or a manager within the business. 

The secret here is not just identifying potential leadership talent, but getting them to invest in their self-development too. 

Leadership development training for middle managers

L&D at this level is all about putting what’s been learnt so far into practice and using that as a base for honing leadership talents. 

By this stage, middle managers will certainly know the core leadership skills but they may still be exploring how they — personally — will act when leading the team. 

You can help them step into the role by:

  • Placing them in a leadership position for a high-level project (go on, challenge them!)
  • Connecting them to a senior company leader for personal coaching or mentoring.
  • Encouraging them to build industry connections
  • Role modelling how to communicate, engage and guide.
  • Holding leadership development training using live, more complicated contexts
  • Conducting assessments — both self and 360-degree

Leadership development training for C-Suite and Directors

Once your colleagues reach this level, they’ll be ready for a more nuanced form of leadership training. Top-level leaders are expected to do, and be, far more — meaning they’ll also be very busy! 

Rather than taking them out of their workflows of days or weeks at a time, ongoing learning and development is key. These are people with a wealth of knowledge and experience, but we all encounter new challenges and ideas – so it’s a case of exposure to and guidance through those.

  • Encourage them to arrange one-to-one coaching sessions with specialist consultants. 
  • Co-create personalised and experiential training pathways — ask them what they want and need, then help them achieve it. 
  • Work with them to really define who they are as a leader and how they’ll use their skills to influence positive, long-lasting change.

And remember: how is equally as important as who

The medium is the message, as they say. So how you present and manage a leadership development training program is every inch as important as who you’re training and what you help them to achieve.

A dusty hand-me-down document does little to inspire future leaders. And your C-Suite execs don’t have time to wander your digital filing systems looking for 360 feedback forms. 

Instead, look to bring all of your leadership development materials together in one place — bonus points for giving participants somewhere to connect and discuss the experience as well.

Not sure where you’d find such an L&D tool? HowNow empowers you to grow tomorrow’s leaders, today. Drive social learning among leaders, create personalised leadership pathways and measure skills in the same place all of your learning lives! Your next great leadership development training starts with a short demo of our all-in-one learning platform.

Check out our other leadership development resources