Leadership Training: Why, What, and How to Get Started

“Our profitability, our values and corporate culture, and our future growth all demand we launch a leadership training program.” Linnea, the VP of Human Resources at a mid-sized technology firm in the New York City area, concluded her presentation to her senior team.

She added as she wrapped up, “ We’re doing well right now, and that’s the point. We don’t need to do this because we are failing, we need to do this because we are succeeding. Leadership training will help us grow and make sure we continue to be the architects of our own future success.”

Leadership Training: The Three Crucial “Why’s”

There are many good reasons to begin leadership training in an organization. Among the most important are:

Talent acquisition and retention. Research clearly demonstrates that people do not leave companies and jobs, they leave their bosses and managers. Poor leadership results in turnover and the loss of your best (and most valuable) employees.

Most new managers are unprepared to lead. The vast majority of managers and supervisors do not have the needed leadership skills to thrive. Employees are promoted because they have excelled at what they have been doing — not because they have demonstrated they can perform in their new role. Your company’s gifted software developer is now expected to lead and manage a software development team, or a division of the company. Do they really know how to do that?

Shaping organizational culture. Every organization has a set of operating values and beliefs that guides their day-to-day behavior — corporate culture. Culture impacts how effectively your teams perform, how decisions are made, and what types of people exert influence in your organization. According to a Gallup-Workhuman survey conducted in May, 2022, “Only 1 in 4 employees strongly agree they feel connected to their culture.” The question is, will you let that culture evolve randomly, or will you intentionally define and shape your culture and engage your employees?

“What” to Do?

There are a number of approaches to leadership training available to organizations, from online webinars to one-on-one executive coaching. A model that we especially like is a hybrid of group learning and individual coaching.

The hybrid model offers a structured program to a larger group of people — usually employees at the same level of the organization, for example, all of the division managers at Linnea’s technology company. The program includes a group component — a series of workshops that develop performance and leadership skills collectively — and a series of one-on-one executive coaching sessions during and following the group work for each person in the group.

There’s a tremendous amount that can be achieved by intelligently combining individual executive coaching with group work. The big benefit is that everyone is on the same page. Individual goals are achieved and aligned with those of the company. This hybrid model moves the needle for individuals as well as the organization.”

Our hybrid model is called the Arden Leadership AcademyArden’s program includes personal DiSC assessments, building emotional intelligence and leadership skills, providing expert feedback, and developing personal, individualized action plans.

Importantly, the Arden Leadership Academy can be customized to meet the needs of the company. For example, if Linnea’s company is especially concerned about building communication skills, emotional intelligence, or working with its new managers to improve their ability to provide employee feedback, specific modules can be included in Arden’s program.

How to Get Started

“Few companies have internal training programs,” notes Linnea. “That’s very common in our industry, and that’s our situation too.” Outsourcing is hard — it’s difficult to find what you need. However, Linnea knows that to engage a leadership training firm successfully, there are two critical “must-haves.”

First, training must come from highly qualified and capable executive coaches and trainers. Linnea’s gold standard is certification with the International Coaching Federation, the the world’s largest organization leading the advancement of the coaching profession. Linnea knows from hard experience that almost anyone can present themselves as a “coach” or a “trainer.” She has to see demonstrable expertise and proven results.

Second, “fit” is extremely important. Linnea has also learned this from the school of hard knocks. Of course, it’s a very subjective determination, but coaching and training style and fit matter. In leadership training, your employees will be working closely with their trainers and sharing much. Trust is absolutely essential, so the “fit” needs to be a good one. And coaches and trainers are people too, and they all have our own style and approach. 

Linnea understands that, after some due diligence, she needs to meet with a few “finalists” to get a feel for each one’s approach to leadership training, and to decide whose approach will best meet her company’s needs.

Internally, to be successful, Linnea needs the support of her senior team to emphasize (repeatedly) to employees that leadership training is important. She will also leverage leadership training to help shape the company’s culture and values — emphasizing expectations about what it means to be a great leader in the organization.

Lastly, Linnea knows that leadership training is not a one-time, “check-off the box” project. The data shows that consistency and repetition are basic to learning, changing behaviors, and embedding strong leadership skills throughout her organization.

Ready for Leadership Training? Let’s Get Going

To learn more about how leadership training can help your organization — from first-time managers and supervisors to the C-Suite, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.