Prioritize Learning and Development

One of the best ways to create strong leaders is to implement a leadership development program at your company. However, new research from Harvard Business Publishing finds that these types of programs are not a priority for many businesses. According to Harvard’s survey of more than 700 leaders from companies around the world, businesses have been increasing their spending on leadership learning-and-development (L&D) programs, but only 28 percent of organizations see these programs as a strategic priority. Similarly, a 2015 survey from recruitment firm Korn Ferry found a lack of support from top executives for leadership development programs.

“Given the central role leadership plays in the success of any organization, the view of leadership development has to shift from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ business process as integral as the supply chain, marketing or IT,” Noah Rabinowitz, former Korn Ferry senior partner and current managing director of Deloitte Leadership and Human Capital, said in a statement. What’s hindering leadership development programs? Ray Carvey, executive vice president of corporate learning at Harvard Business Publishing, thinks the real challenge for L&D programs is proving their impact. The Korn Ferry survey found similar results, with 55 percent of those respondents ranking the return on investment on leadership development efforts as “fair” to “very poor.”

“Most L&D initiatives are measured at the level of participant satisfaction: If a program is very well received by employees and business managers at their outset, then it’s deemed a success,” Carvey said. “But it falls on the HR teams to show that these programs are not only well received but also make a significant impact on the company when implemented properly.” Time constraints were another hurdle, cited by 43 percent of the Harvard survey respondents. “Much of today’s workforce is stretched thin, and taking on any additional activity often seems like a burden,” Carvey said. “However, this doesn’t need to be the case when it comes to L&D programs. Businesses need to implement plans that fit into the daily workflow of employees and allow for flexibility in scheduling.”