5 Things to Consider when Evaluating Leadership Training Programs

Jon’s senior leadership team had — very smartly, in his and our estimation — approved moving forward with leadership training programs for the company’s high potential employees. Now he was given the responsibility of finding the right program and putting everything into place. A daunting task! After some research and reflection, Jon identified 5 criteria that will help him find the very best leadership training programs possible to meet his company’s needs.

Jon will look to make sure the program’s materials are complete — that they have depth and substance. Too many offerings in the marketplace hype an improbable time-effort-results formula, promising to turn your high potential employees into leadership rock stars in a day or two — or less!

Utterly ridiculous of course, but the promise of a quick payoff often seduces us. So first, Jon committed himself to make sure that the program materials will substantively cover the types of things he wants to cover, whether that’s communication skills, strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, providing feedback, handling difficult conversations, or any other aspect of leadership important to Jon’s company.

  • Stickiness of Materials

“Stickiness” is the ability of the teaching materials and program content to foster meaningful learning, long-term retention, and the capacity to apply what is learned.

Intuitively Jon knows that asking participants to sit through an online leadership lecture that was recorded five years ago will not work— and no one wants to suffer through that. The online lecture (or afternoon seminar) is simply not sticky. What’s the most effective way to learn how to build skills, drive change, and improve performance? The answer is found in leadership training programs that offer multiple touches on the content and learning, applied to specific (and real) work situations.

For an interesting perspective on the value of repetition to build stickiness, read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, and his comments about the role of “10,000 hours” of practice for mastery and success.

  • Who’s Teaching the Program?

Jon wants to be very clear about who will be teaching the program. What are their qualifications and certifications? The person selling the leadership training program and recommending the best approach may be highly qualified — but will they be the primary presenter, facilitator, or coach?

Jon needs to know up-front, who his lead will be, and who any other teachers or presenters are. He will insist on highly qualified and capable trainers and executive coaches — with certification from the International Coaching Federation, the world’s leading professional organization. And he will want to see a track record of proven results.

  • Can the Program be Tailored?

Sending a cohort of up-and-coming leaders to an executive development program at Harvard or the Wharton School is terrific. The content is the same for everyone — regardless of their background —  but most people will benefit from the experience.

Jon recognizes that a leadership training program customized to meet their needs will work best for his company. He is seeking a partner who wants to know, “Who are the participants, and what are their challenges?” He’s looking for an executive coaching and leadership training company that asks “What are the organization’s goals?”

Also critical is the degree to which the leadership training program can customize and adapt its case studies, examples, questions, and exercises to address the company’s specific needs — and be relevant by best reflecting the realities of the participant’s work environment.

  • Cost Versus Value

Jon can easily find a cheap program. In fact, a leader he respects recently said, “If all you and your leadership team really want to do is check-off a box and proclaim, ‘look, we provided training!’ there are plenty of online webinar packages that are inexpensive and easy.”

But Jon sincerely wants a leadership program to be sticky — a program that will change people’s behaviors, and develop important leadership characteristics. He recognizes that a program that accomplishes those goals is a different kind of investment. And the best measure has not cost, but value — impact, results, and performance.

Explore Your Leadership Training Options

To learn more about how a great leadership training program will help you improve your organization’s performance and develop leadership skills in your high-potential employees, contact Arden Coaching here or at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.