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April 7, 2016

Why you should make snap decisions on leadership development


Snap decisions on leadership development- 2 puzzle pieces
Leadership development dollars are a precious resource in any organization. And leadership development programs that fail to create a clear ROI are unlikely to make it into next year’s budget.

So it makes sense that you wouldn’t make snap decisions about how you handle leadership development. But maybe you should.

Your leadership development efforts should be:

  • Strategic
  • Needs based
  • Appropriate to your organization
  • Professionally supported

In other words, SNAP! Here’s our four-step guide to making great SNAP decisions on leadership development training.



Leadership development isn’t merely a “feel good” activity, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Effective leadership development is aligned with your organization’s goals and overall strategy. It answers the question “How are we going to make sure our managers can carry out our strategy?”
So the first step in choosing leadership development programs is to consider your business strategy. Are you focused on innovations, cost control or acquisitions? Whatever your strategy, your leadership development efforts should support that strategy.

Which brings us to the second essential element.


Needs based

Leadership development fills the gap between your employees’ current leadership capabilities and the capabilities needed to execute a business strategy. Once you have a firm grip on the business strategy, it’s time to consult with key business leaders to understand what those gaps may be.
For example, in a company that’s trying to control costs, process improvement may be a critical need. That in turn may mean that employees need help working together in cross-functional teams, re-engineering existing processes to make them more or efficient, or adjusting to new ways of working.

One simple, but effective way to determine what your organization’s leadership development needs are is to have a series of conversations with key business leaders. You can find out from there where their managers and teams are falling short. At the same time, but linking these capability gaps to business strategy and that business unit’s needs, you help build support for leadership training.

After you’ve had those conversations, you may want to deconstruct those needs even more and consider what individual elements, or combination of elements, are critical.

This might include assessments, for example, to help individuals better understand their own strengths and weaknesses around key functions, such as decision making. And it could also include simulations, to help people practice new ways of working together and new ideas before they apply them in day-to-day business activities.

These leadership development offerings, though, will only be effective if they’re tailored to be appropriate for your organization.


SNAP decisions on leadership development


Appropriate to your organization

Every organization is different. Some have employees scattered across many locations. Others are filled with managers and decision makers who travel frequently.
Ensuring your training activities are appropriate to your company is critical. When thinking about what’s appropriate, you might consider:

  • Your industry. If your company is in financial services or pharmaceuticals, for example, will the leadership development program be appropriate? Has it been used for your industry before?
  • Logistics. Will you need to get everyone in the same place to administer the program? Or can you do some or all of the program virtually?
  • Expertise. Do you have the in-house knowledge (and time!) to run these programs yourself, or will you hire a consultant?

These ‘appropriateness’ factors will help you zero in on what kinds of leadership development programs and resources will be most effective for your organization.

You now probably have a pretty good idea of what you need in a leadership development program. But there is one more critical element that can make the difference between failure and success: Support.


Professionally supported

Whatever leadership development program you put in place, don’t go it alone.
It’s likely that you’ll choose from assessments, simulations and other program elements to construct your program. What kind of support will you have for implementing those tools effectively?

When looking at providers, you should ask about:

  • Data. Is there data available that will allow you to compare your employees to industry norms?
    Training. Effectively implementing a leadership development tool isn’t as simple as putting a standardized test in front of an employee. Can your provider deliver the training you need to get the most value out of the leadership development tool?

As you consider the leadership development options available to you, making a “SNAP decision” ensures you that you’ll get a positive ROI from your investment.

Want to learn more about how to make your development program a success?

Download our white paper on best practices
for using simulations in leadership development