How to Measure a Leadership Development Program

Kristen Harcourt Feb 9, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Countless studies and good old common sense tell us that good succession planning is critical to long-term company success. Despite that, very few companies seem to have much of a sense of whether or not their leadership development program is paying off. How do you measure the success?

There is no one-size-fits-all leadership development program. They vary just like the organizations that use them, and they should. Not all organizations need the same kind of leadership, so no one program will fit all needs. However, there are 3 steps that can help every organization figure out how to measure leadership development:

1) Create A Set Of Competencies Or Requirements

A set of competencies or requirements for potential and current leadership provides a foundation for your leadership development program. Simply put, if you don’t know what you need, it’s hard to know if you’re on the right track. Alternatively, if you know what you’re trying to build, you can focus your resources in pursuit of that goal.

The process of bringing key people together to discuss what competencies future leaders should have helps to solidify thinking and get consensus about what leadership should look like in your organization, both now and for the future. It also sets you up to identify who in your existing employee pool has the potential to lead and which areas your current leaders need to develop.

Our clients use the McQuaig Job Survey tool to assist them in creating the benchmark leadership traits. The process of using this tool also helps gain consensus, and the report becomes a handy target or measuring stick. To evaluate current leaders, clients use the McQuaig 360 Leadership Review, which is easier to use than traditional 360-degree feedback tools.

2) Identify Employees With High Potential To Lead

Once you have your competencies established, you can start to look at your employee pool and identify which employees have high leadership potential. There are many ways to do this. McQuaig clients often use the built-in Job Fit measuring tool in combination with our Interview Guide. But however you identify your high potentials, once you have them, you can start to ask yourself some questions about developing them. Are there any opportunities for them to learn from current leaders? Do they have any gaps in skills or behavioral traits? By knowing who your potential leaders are, and what they need to do to fit the competency mold you’ve created, you’ll know what must be done to develop their leadership acumen.

Pro Tip: Discover 3 ways that creating job benchmarks can improve employee development

You’re now set up to create individual development plans that cater to exactly the areas these high potentials need to focus on in order to grow into the kind of leaders you know you’ll need. The McQuaig Self-Development Report helps our clients by providing action plan worksheets that can be customized based on their personal assessments and the leadership target created by a job analysis. Of course, you can do this however you like, as long as you're careful to make it targeted and personalized.

Before acting on any of this, though, having a one-on-one meeting with your high potentials may prove to be helpful. Ask some obvious questions. Are they interested in leading? Do they plan on staying with your company for the long term? These are questions that should be considered before investing too much.

Now, I now that identifying high potentials can be tricky business. Here are a few blog posts that might help:

3) Create Evaluation Methods

Once you’ve established critical competencies and your high potential employees, it’s time to put them together and build evaluation methods for your leaders. On a qualitative level, one-on-one meetings with your developing leaders gives them an opportunity to provide their feedback on what development efforts are working for them. Hiring managers can use the development action plans to track progress towards their goals and fitting the leadership target.

On a quantitative level, measuring retention rates, engagement levels and achievements in those who undergo development, as well as those of their team members, can help in determining the effectiveness of your leadership development program.

While determining how to measure leadership development is different for every organization, knowing what's required for leadership, who has the potential to meet these requirements, and how to create evaluation methods is an excellent start in building an effective leadership development program.

Your thoughts?

The Ultimate Guide To Succession Planning

Topics: Employee Engagement, Leadership development, Coaching and Development

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.