Corporate leadership training is a big business in the United States, and for a good reason: medium to large-sized corporations need quality people at the helm to help them navigate their way to success. According to the American Society of Training and Development, US corporations spend in the neighborhood of $160 billion annually on leadership-related curriculum, with the vast majority of that being dedicated exclusively toward leadership training.

With that staggering amount of capital being invested in training corporate leaders, one would surmise that the ROI from this training would be paying handsome dividends. However, that is not the case. The data suggests that the learning that is gleaned from all of this training does not result in higher levels of organizational performance. Conversely, it seems that after the training is concluded and the participants return to their respective companies, those people merely return to their old habits and ways of performing their jobs—resulting in a tremendous amount of squandered training dollars.

But why does this happen? There are numerous reasons, but let’s focus on the six primary obstacles that prevent corporate leadership training from achieving success, according to the Harvard Business Review:
The above six issues were inherent flaws in many corporations that make corporate leadership programs destined for failure. In short, the lack of training is not the issue. Rather, in many companies, the senior leadership fails to convey a clear strategy and set of corporate values. As a result, mid-level managers do not have a full understanding of their expectations.

  1. There exists in many companies a lack of clear direction on the strategy and values of the corporation, which in turn leads to conflicting priorities.
  2. Top-level senior executives do not function as a team; further, those executives have not made a firm commitment to move the organization in a new direction, and have failed to acknowledge changes that they must make in their behavior (“leadership starts at the top” is more than just a cliche).
  3. Addressing the different issues about the nurturing and coaching of talent within the organization is not given adequate attention and time by the current leadership.
  4. Because of poorly designed organizational structure, there is a lack of coordination between businesses, functions, or regions.
  5. Many of the leaders of corporations exhibit a laissez-faire management style. This results in there being a shortage of honest dialogue about issues.
  6. Many employees have qualms about stating the different issues and obstacles that they have observed in their organization because of their fear retribution or some form of punishment for bringing these structural deficiencies to light by informing the top brass.

It becomes obvious from examining the list of corporate issues enumerated above that before corporate leadership training can be successful, a company hoping to benefit from sending their future leaders to training has to address these systemic, structural problems.

After the different reasons for corporate leadership training failure have been spelled out, the next logical question is how to ensure your corporate leadership training is a success. Needless to say, there needs to be an honest assessment—starting from the very top of the organization—about the identity of the company. What are your organization’s core values? Is the executive team creating an environment that is conducive to training, nurturing, and promoting future leaders?

After your company has conducted a thorough evaluation of your corporate structure and made necessary changes, it will be time to glean the fruits of your training dollars. Below are four key tips to effective corporate leadership training programs:

Decide What Skills Are Needed For Your Organization

Ideally, the leaders of a corporation will be experts in every field, skilled at dealing with any scenario that is presented to them. No challenge is too great! However, in reality, this isn’t possible. Rather, your corporation should focus leadership training on the core set of skills that are integral to the day-to-day operation of your firm. Trying to force too much information into future leaders during training can backfire and result in cognitive overload. Instead, focus the training on the talents and skills that they will need to perform their job in the most efficient manner. Examples of crucial talents that any corporate leader will need and use often include organizational, listening, and communication skills.

Utilize Social Networks As A Part of Your Leadership Training

Employing social networks such as LinkedIn or Facebook in your leadership training program is often invaluable. An added benefit to incorporating these platforms is obvious when one considers the burgeoning number of corporate leaders who function remotely. Supervisors or managers who are located across the country—or even the globe—can merely hop on to the social networking platform and collaborate with their opinions, ideas, and insights.

Create a Corporate Learning Culture

It is imperative that the leaders of your corporation understand they are members of a positive culture of corporate learning, given that they are the examples for the training program. If everyone from the top down shows that they are excited about the training process and focused with laser-like intensity on development and learning, then the lower-level employees will follow suit as a natural progression. The key to fostering a successful corporate learning culture is to encourage and practice positive actions and behaviors. Also, every learner who participates in corporate leadership training needs the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions. This not only empowers future leaders by letting them know that their input is valued, but can also be invaluable for soliciting feedback that can, in turn, be used to improve future learning programs.

Offer Continuing “As Needed” Training Resources

Effective leadership training programs are certainly an integral component for the future success of your organization. However, to maximize the benefits of leadership training, ongoing resources must be made available so that your future corporate leaders can access them when the need arises. For example, a leadership manual could offer tips and tactics on motivating their team or resolving a particular conflict. By providing this tool, your future leaders have immediate access to answers—as opposed to consulting with a senior member of the management team, or seeking out the answer from human resources.

Don’t let your company be one of the many who fritters away valuable training dollars on corporate leadership programs that are not effective. Ensure that your organization is in the right place for training to be successful, then implement an intelligent, specialized training program that takes into account the unique nature of your business. Contact Us Today to see how we can help!


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