Leadership Development Training: Why Early and Often Is the Best Approach

Dec 5, 2022

If leaders are made and are not born, as lore often says, why do we wait so long to give individuals the skills they need to grow into exemplary leaders? Many organizations follow a more traditional and arguably, outdated, path to leadership development. This typically means that people are hired into organizations in individual contributor positions and rise through the ranks, often while gathering direct reports. When they have reached a certain level or achieved a particular title, then they are given access to leadership development training.

When organizations wait until employees are in managerial or executive positions to provide this valuable training, they miss out on the opportunity to create a culture of leadership based on behaviors and skills rather than a top-down hierarchy based on positional leadership. This furthers a phenomenon that a recent Harvard Business Review article called the “Leadership Development Paradox” which points out the irony that leadership development training is typically offered to individuals who have vast work experience and act in a position of traditional leadership – which is, plainly stated, too late. By taking a different approach and investing in leadership development early on and continuing to scale these opportunities as individuals grow, organizations can elevate their entire business benefitting not only their people, but the bottom line.

How Early Leadership Development Benefits Your Organization

Invest in the Future

When organizations invest in their people by providing valuable leadership training, their leaders become attuned to their organization and environment in a new and unique way. By giving them a common language to express their goals and visions for the future – and an expectation that they will share that vision with those around them, they will become more committed to the future of their work leading to increased investment and innovation.

Empower Principled Leaders

A primary focus in leadership development training is increasing awareness around one’s own behavior and how it impacts people and the work itself. By increasing self-awareness and encouraging personal discovery, individuals will have a greater sense of how people should be treated and how they can work best together to achieve goals. As leaders learn more about themselves, they innately gain a greater understanding of those around them which increases cohesion.

Encourage Innovation

As individuals continue on their path to exemplary leadership, and as leadership development training is scaled as people grow in their careers, they learn that they are seen as more than just an employee but valued as a leader and a visionary within their organization, regardless of their role or title. Empowered to innovate and challenge the status quo, leaders at all levels care about their work and give their best to those around them.

Create an Environment of Mutual Respect

There is no magic cure for common workplace challenges but having the language to work through these problems will set your organization apart from those who wait until later to provide leadership development training. By having leaders at every level who understand themselves, their vision, and their goals – while also understanding that each individual brings something unique and extraordinary – you can create an organization that does not thrive on ego and hierarchy but works together for the betterment of everyone.

Enable Support and Encouragement

Too often, organizations become hotspots of competition as people fight for promotions, raises, and the attention of c-suite executives. When leadership is seen as a rare commodity rather than a set of skills and behaviors anyone can learn, it makes sense that conflict could ensue. By investing in your people early with access to these skills and seeing everyone as leaders, that air of competition will dissipate as everyone is appreciated for their unique skills, achievements, and vision.

By offering leadership development training early and continuing to offer it as individuals progress through their careers, organizations can create a foundation of leadership skills and behaviors that will elevate everyone and encourage a culture of leadership where everyone learns the skills necessary to behave like a leader.

Based on the best-selling book The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and grounded in the evidence-based Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI®), The Leadership Challenge® can help you unlock the power of leadership at every level. Learn more about our training and development solutions at leadershipchallenge.com

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