5 Tips for Evaluating Your Company’s Leadership Training Program

As an HR manager, it is important to evaluate your company’s leadership training program to determine its effectiveness, short- and long-term benefits as well as negative results, if any. Knowing the impact of your existing training program will help you figure out whether the current resource allotment is adequate or lacking, what methods are working and what approaches are no longer useful. Most importantly, it will help you measure any improvement in the participants’ overall work performance.

Your company will reap numerous benefits from proper and timely leadership training assessment. Here are five practical ways to check the impact of your training program:

  1. Administer pre- and post-training surveys. This is one of the easiest and most commonly used methods in evaluating leadership training programs. Use an empirical measurement scale (e.g., common scales used in research on training and development or a scale developed by your company using its own indicators) to assess the participants’ knowledge and skills before and after the training. Compare the scores of both surveys per trainee to derive the level of improvement.
  1. Ask feedback from other employees who directly interact with the training participants. If the participants are managers or top-rank officials, ask direct staff or assistants if there has been a change in their leaders’ performance. Likewise, request feedback from the trainees’ supervisors. Assure them that the data will be kept confidential and used solely for evaluation purposes. In addition, assure them that the results of the inquiry will not interfere with their relationship with the person in question.
  1. Gather feedback from clients. For unbiased evaluations, ask the participants’ clients to assess pre- and post-training performance. This is considered effective because client responses are usually free from personal bias. Prepare a set of questions or develop criteria that will guide clients in giving feedback.
  1. Determine the participants’ reactions. At the end of a training program, require the trainees to fill out an evaluation form or complete a brief survey. However, one of the disadvantages of this method is that the participants may not share their comments or give detailed responses. This will lead to inaccurate evaluation results.
  1. Conduct on-the-job evaluation. To see if the leadership training program objectives were met, check in with the participants while they are working. This way, you can observe how the training has influenced their interpersonal skills, management techniques and outputs. After all, leadership training is meant to transform them into better business leaders and more efficient company members.

Celebrate positive evaluation results but be careful not to rest on your laurels. When measuring the effectiveness of your company’s leadership training program, also consider other circumstances that could influence short- and long-term impact. For example, non-work factors (e.g., personal problems and health conditions) could affect the participants’ performance before, during and after the training. Take these factors into account throughout training program planning and implementation. Always track the progress of leadership training and take advantage of post-training evaluation. Understanding the results will help you design and implement better training programs in the future.

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Applying the Army Leadership Training Course to Business

Army ROTC students have a unique opportunity to experience a four-week leadership training course in Fort Knox, Kentucky. While this may seem far away from the boardroom, there are valuable pieces to each step in the process that can be applied to business leaders.

  • Physical Training: The first step of the Army leadership training course is physical training. While physical health is certainly beneficial, most business leaders will not rely on physical fitness or strength directly.

However, business leaders must train themselves to operate in the best interests of the organization. This includes developing confidence in his or herself. The Army course builds confidence through strengthening physical weaknesses. A business leader will also have initial strengths and weaknesses. He or she must first understand their internal traits and determine what weaknesses must be improved upon.

  • Classroom Training: This step in the Army leadership training course involves history, military strategy and speakers who are established in their careers. Business leadership training will lay the foundation to define leadership, as well as to give personal or historical examples of success. In other words, this portion of the process is a broad look at leadership as a whole.

Leadership training includes observing the traits of other successful leaders and studying them. By doing so, a manager or leader will see how leadership philosophies have been developed and improved upon over time.This will aid individuals in determining if such past strategies may be acceptable to apply to a current situation.

  • Skills Training: This portion of the Army course is specifically termed “weapons training.” Continuing with the analogy, however, business leaders will begin to learn and develop specific skills they will use each and every day in their organizational roles.

An example of a specific skill would be a course in communication and motivation. Members of an organization must be able to effectively communicate with one another. Leaders must be able to properly and clearly express themselves to employees and team members, but they must also listen effectively as well.

Furthermore, employees respond differently to different leadership styles. In this portion of leadership training, a leader or manager will develop the skills needed to present themselves in those differing styles so they may best motivate and direct employees and team members. Simply, with the right skills, a leader will know which button to push, and how to do so in the most successful way.

  • Field Training: Business leaders who have undergone leadership training must take the strategies they learned and the skills they have developed and apply them to their organization.

This includes portions of all the previous steps, including emphasizing strengths with confidence, implementing new skills that have improved former weaknesses, and applying successful strategies and philosophies from other leaders when appropriate.

  • Feedback: This is an important step that is often overlooked. In the Army, there is constant feedback from commanders. However, owners and operators may not have a specific “boss.” He or she must often self-evaluate, or look to customer feedback instead.

However, an outside perspective is very important. A mentor is a great resource for feedback and will be able to give open and honest criticism or advice when needed. Finally, in most leadership training courses, there will be opportunities to network with other business leaders and a relationship can develop to continue to help one another through ongoing experiences.




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How to Choose a Leadership Training Venue

Location is a crucial factor in the successful conduct of organizational learning activities like leadership training. Companies that invest in venues that are conducive to skills development and capacity building become home to driven and innovative employees. Poor venues will yield poor results simply because effective learning will not take place. Leadership trainees will not retain information if they are distracted, uncomfortable and uninterested.

Factors to consider in selecting a venue

Leadership training can be conducted within office premises where company facilities (e.g., meeting rooms and equipment) can be accessed easily and for free. This setup makes learning more intimate, promotes better interaction between and among participants and trainers, and reinforces hands-on learning. However, the downside of holding training internally is that participants can be pulled out from the sessions at any time to deal with work-related matters.

Many organizations conduct training outside their immediate work environment to enjoy uninterrupted sessions. Venues for external training include conference establishments with boarding rooms or dormitories as well as hotels with spacious meeting rooms and convention halls. Training held outside the workplace is more expensive and time-consuming. However, it is usually more productive since participants can focus on meeting training objectives.

Here are some factors to consider in choosing a venue:

  • Budget. Almost all organizations have a set budget for training. Some companies include provisions for external venues while others only have resources for office-based training.
  • Participant headcount. Small companies with a limited number of trainees can easily find a small venue. Large organizations often cluster their trainees into smaller groups to make scheduling, place selection and the actual training easier.
  • Duration. There is no prescribed number of days for leadership training. Depending on venue availability, some programs take three to five days to complete. Others are structured as workshops that can be conducted weekly or bi-weekly.
  • Training method. Venue location and facilities should complement the training method to be used (e.g., traditional classroom setup, self-study and practical exercises).

Why an ocular inspection is necessary

Organizations should form a committee or select a staff member that will be in charge of researching possible venues as well as making recommendations. The common criteria to be considered when inspecting a training venue are:

  • Accessibility via public and private transport
  • Outdoor conditions (e.g., neighborhood safety or peace and order in the vicinity)
  • Indoor conditions (e.g., ventilation and air-conditioning or heating system)
  • Ample space for all participants and training activities
  • Availability of proper training equipment (e.g., sound devices, lighting equipment, computers, LCD projectors and screens, and other technical requirements)
  • Holding area for training facilitators, training materials and caterers (if applicable)
  • Facilities and stage for speakers or resource persons
  • Contingency plan of the venue management for power failures and other emergencies

The committee or point person should also coordinate with venue officials regarding the overall conduct of the training, as well as the rules and regulations that the organization and its participants should observe while in the training venue (e.g., dress code, non-smoking areas, food and beverage restrictions, and curfew).

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A Leadership Development Program Must Be Engaging: The 70:20:10 Model

photo credit: The U.S. Army
photo credit: The U.S. Army

Business strategies and philosophies change often. However, some make an impact that is great enough to last over time. When it comes to leadership development, the 70:20:10 model has persevered. In fact, the 70:20:10 model is as relevant today as it was when first developed and there are few signs to indicate it will fail anytime soon.

The 70:20:10 Model

In simple terms, this model calls for 70% of the time spent in a leadership development program should consist of learning “on the job.” The following 20% should consist of working with a coach or mentor, while the final 10% involves learning in a traditional classroom setting.

Of course, the learning does not follow the percentages as a timeline. It is actually reversed, with the classroom learning first and the field work done last.

10%: Formal Training

The smallest portion of training is performed through lectures or other formal academic procedures. Examples of formal training include classroom lectures and reading leadership manuals. This form of learning and training is groundwork for what will come later – is still important, it just isn’t very engaging.

Formal training is most successful when it provides specific technical skills and philosophies that connect the student with his or her experimental learning that will occur later. In other words, the explanations and examples delivered in the formal or classroom setting should relate directly to what will be studied and absorbed through experience.

20%: Learning From Others

In this part of the leadership development program, more emphasis is placed on working closely with other leaders or a direct supervisor. Knowledge is more influential, when compared to formal training, because the teachings and instructions come directly from people with relatable experience. This helps to strengthen the classroom information through a more relaxed dialogue with others that have practiced it first hand themselves.

A mentor, boss or another leader serves as an expert and can offer useful guidance. He or she will emphasize good habits and help the student avoid mistakes the mentor made earlier in his or her career. This is much more engaging for the new leader because there is communication and interaction with someone that has “been in his or her shoes.”

70%: Experimental Learning

The vast majority of development comes from actually working and implementing the strategies learned through training sessions. This is the most engaging point of the process because the leader is completely immersed in their leadership role. He or she must apply what was learned thus far in “real world” situations.

It is nearly impossible to learn everything you need to know without actually experiencing it first hand, which is why the model relies on research and studies at its base. This researched data has proven that people not only learn more, but are better able to recall information best this way.

In conclusion, each section of the 70-20-10 model supports the others so that they come together to form an overall successful strategy. You can literally visualize this phenomenon as a pie graph in which the percentages form a complete circle. While some organizations have made tweaks to the system, the 70:20:10 model has become a standard operating procedure for leadership development because it is proven to work.



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Why Having a Positive Attitude is a Significant Leadership Quality

photo credit: pedrosimoes7
photo credit: pedrosimoes7

In 2012, Tanya Prive posted an article to Forbes.com entitled “Top 10 Qualities that Make a Great Leader.” The page has been viewed more than 3.5 million times by a wide range of individuals since it was first published. Ms. Prive describes the ten most important qualities as:

  1. Honesty
  2. Ability to Delegate
  3. Communication
  4. Sense of Humor
  5. Confidence
  6. Commitment
  7. Positive Attitude
  8. Creativity
  9. Intuition
  10. Ability to Inspire

Similar lists have also appeared in other news outlets, magazines, and leadership manuscripts. Depending on the author and the specific matter, certain traits may be moved up and down.

However, this is an example of a well-rounded collection of valuable leadership qualities published by a reputable source. Because Forbes is a well-respected magazine in business circles, many of those that have read this particular article are likely to be business leaders themselves.

It is interesting to note that “positive attitude” ranks on the bottom half of the list because one could argue it actually impacts the other nine items listed. Positive attitude is significant because it affects leaders internally while also influencing others.

How a Positive Attitude Impacts Other “Top 10” Leadership Qualities

According to the description of positive attitude in the Forbes list, the author only describes how it affects other members of the team. Prive says:

“You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.

If your team is feeling happy and upbeat, chances are they won’t mind staying that extra hour to finish a report, or devoting their best work to the brand.”

As you see, the author directly touches on other top leadership qualities, including communication (relationship advice), sense of humor (playfulness), commitment (staying that extra hour), and ability to inspire (keep your team motivated). However, the general makeup of her description only refers to ways the positive attitude of managers impact lower level employees, while in fact, a positive attitude also plays an internal role for the leader also.

Creativity and intuition are two of the “top 10” leadership qualities listed. A positive attitude gives a leader the confidence (another item listed) to trust his or her creative ideas for the business and to follow their intuition to implement them.

Furthermore, a leader must have a positive attitude in order to properly delegate. He or she must again be confident in a decision – this time to put the right people in the right role to be successful, and to follow through on directions from the leader.

Finally, a positive attitude directly impact’s Prive’s top leadership quality: honesty. When a leader thinks positively, there is no need to compromise ethical behavior within the organization. But most importantly, a positive attitude allows a manager to be honest with him or herself – which is vital in making important business decisions that impact the entire organization.




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Leadership Training Also Benefits Lower Level Employees

photo credit: Celestine Chua
photo credit: Celestine Chua

A common trend among successful businesses is to invest in leadership training for managers. However, lower level employees will also benefit from a leadership training program. By learning leadership skills, workers will not only become more valuable in their everyday role, they will also be prepared for future high level positions.

Leadership Training Shows Employees Are Valued Within the Business

Simply put, making an investment in leadership training for lower level employees will show they are a valuable part of the organization. When members of a work force feel valued, they will be confident in their abilities and will perform at a higher level. They will work harder, and thanks to the skills developed through leadership training, they will also work more efficiently and effectively.

In part, this is also true because a worker will strive for achievement in order to avoid disappointing the high-ranking officials of the organization. He or she will aim to make the leaders proud because of the time, energy and money that were invested into leadership training for them.

Valued Employees Will Remain Loyal to the Organization

Studies show that employees are not primarily motivated by money. Instead, employees that do not feel fulfilled by their work, or do not feel valued by the organization, are more likely to leave for another company. When a company shows an employee that he or she is valuable through an investment in leadership training, they in turn become more loyal to the organization as a whole.

By creating a more loyal work force, the organization will benefit in several ways. First, there is a financial advantage because the business will not require the additional investment of hiring and training new employees. Additionally, a loyal group of workers can gain extensive experience within the organization, further amplifying productivity. Finally, those experienced workers will be strong candidates for upper managers and organization leaders.

Loyal Workers That Are Properly Trained Develop Into Strong Leaders

Change within an organization is inevitable. There comes a time when all high-level officials relinquish their roles. By creating a loyal and experienced workforce, lower level employees will be better prepared to step into those roles.

To further illustrate the point, there are specific advantages that come with an investment in leadership training during a financial downturn. As history shows, an economic recession leads to corporate downsizing. In turn, a company is forced to adapt in order to maintain or increase revenue and profit. Workers must shoulder more individual responsibility because the number of total employees has decreased.

According to the firm Bersin & Associates, companies that invest in leadership development are better equipped to survive such an economic downturn. In fact, a study conducted by the firm projects 86% of those companies will be able to adapt. Conversely, roughly half of businesses that do not invest in leadership training will fail to do so.

This research leads to the conclusion that investing in leadership training throughout an organization is an intelligent decision. If a company can navigate through the toughest economic times with the help of a skilled and resilient work force that has been trained well, it is properly prepared for long-term success.






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Leadership Development is Vital for the Culture of Your Organization

photo credit: photosteve101
photo credit: photosteve101

In most business structures there is an overall leadership hierarchy. A CEO, members of the board, and upper management have important responsibilities and must make critical decisions. This includes setting goals and implementing the right systems in order to achieve those goals.

What some companies fail to do, however, is create a culture of high performance throughout the entire organization. Therefore, leadership development is vital. In fact, according to the Center for Creative Leadership:

“Numerous in-depth studies have reached the same conclusion: Organizations that invest in leadership development perform better than those that don’t.”

Leadership Development Increases Communication Within the Organization

Among the most important skills leadership development offers is tools to increase communication within the organization. From the top to the bottom, members must effectively communicate with one another to create an effective culture. Examples of this include:

  • Making communication a priority: Simply put, some managers get wrapped up in their responsibilities and forget to communicate. Others assume the members of an organization are of like mind, when they may not be. However, studies show that organizations that communicate well, and on a regular schedule, have an overall higher rate of achievement.
  • Delivering a clear message: Lower level employees rely on leaders for direction. Mixed or unclear messages lead to confusion among staff members. Confusion will often lead to a lack of confidence in the leaders themselves and the organization as a whole.
  • Listening effectively: One-way communication is simply not successful. Ideas should be exchanged in order for efficient processes to be implemented. A common trait among good leaders is the ability to delegate, but also to trust the feedback he or she receives from that delegation. In both cases, employees are valued.
  • Enhancing teamwork: Teamwork is essential within a successful organization to create solutions to problems as they arise. This includes both inefficiencies in business processes and personal conflicts that can infiltrate an organization and lead to lower productivity.

Leadership Development Increases the Performance of the Entire Organization

An effective system of communication is certainly a very important part of a successful organization, but it is only one step towards increasing performance. Bersin & Associates is an independent research firm that has studied the impact leadership has on the overall performance of an organization. In a 2008 study, the firm concluded:

“It is important to remember that leadership development is not just about developing leaders – it is about creating a culture of performance. There is a relationship between good management and employee commitment. Great leaders attract, hire and inspire great people. A mediocre manager will never attract or retain high-performing employees. Leadership development creates a magnet for high performers and fosters a high-performance organization.”

In other words, companies that invest in leadership development are actually making an investment in the culture of the organization as a whole. By increasing communication and valuing employees, each individual will increase his or her performance. As each person achieves more, the organization will as well.








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Who is a leader?

We have all heard the familiar refrain. To be a leader, one must act. To be a leader one must take charge. To be a great leader one must have vision and be able to execute. Some of us are born leaders; the rest are doomed and programmed to be followers.

So I ask a simple question: Who is a leader?

In your own life, who are the ‘leaders’ you respect and follow? Who are the individuals you choose to emulate? Is the concept of

photo credit: CIMMYT
photo credit: CIMMYT

leader a single individual or a set of characteristics. If a previously admired leader fails for one reason or another, do we then stop considering them as leaders? Do their DNA cells suddenly change or mutate from leader genes to looser or follower genes? Have there been times in your own life when you rose to a challenge that others shrunk from?

In my humble opinion, leadership and the concept of the leader is really a journey. A journey of self-discovery during which each unique individual has all the tools and resources to contribute their song to the great symphony of life. Being a leader is not a foregone conclusion. I hardly believe it is a exclusive preserve of anyone person or group of people. All sentient beings have the molecular structure necessary to exhibit leadership.

Now comes the inevitable BUT….

But surely not everyone who walks this planet is a leader. Definitely we have seen some amongst us excel and therefore deserve the titles we accord. But we have presidents and prime ministers, we have popes and pastors, we have congresspeople and city council people. These are people we consider leaders don’t we?

Your boss is certainly a leader you deal with on a frequent basis. We have tech entrepreneurs who have ascended to the towering heights of their industries. These deserve our respect and admiration but does that mean the janitor at your high school is not a leader? Should we not consider some of the youngest among us leaders?

It is the goal of this platform to highlight the intricacies and uniqueness of leadership qualities in all of us. We will provide powerful stories, offer the tools and resources we all so dearly need to excel in our individual leadership journeys and provide leadership training materials, courses and mentor-ship so that someday, they will say, we contributed our song and we did it beautifully.




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