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7 Steps to Launch a Leadership Development Program
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Talent Acquisition

How to Launch a Leadership Development Program

One Minute Takeaway

  • To launch a successful leadership development program, start by identifying key stakeholders and internal champions to ensure the program receives adequate support and avoid bottlenecks.
  • Clearly define the goals of your leadership development strategy, considering factors like compensation & succession planning, and how the program will affect engagement, retention, and diversity.
  • Set clear expectations around usage of the program. Leverage internal champions to facilitate discussions, keep people engaged, and incorporate the strategy into the company culture.

Starting a new people initiative takes preparation. Planning to launch a leadership development program quickly and successfully can seem overwhelming. So, how do you know where to start? Glad you asked! The tips below will help you get ready to make the launch process as smooth as possible.

1. Identify Key Stakeholders & Internal Champions

Whether people operations is a team of one or a large department, knowing who’s responsible for what should be your priority.

If you’re taking on the task of implementing your company’s leadership development strategy entirely on your own, find stakeholders and internal champions to work with you. Even if you’re part of an enterprise-level organization, it’s important to identify champions across the organization who you can incorporate into the process.

Why is it better to have more than one person leading the charge? First, it eliminates any bottlenecks. You’re busy so dividing and conquering decisions and administrative duties cuts down on long stretches of time when things aren’t moving. Second, major organizational changes with only one champion are less likely to succeed. Buy-in, support, and involvement from executive leadership will be major factors in your strategy’s success.

Be sure to identify two or three key stakeholders and internal champions who will be involved in getting your leadership development program off the ground.

2. Get Your Tech Squared Away

Getting the technology piece in place for any project can be a significant holdup. Involve your technology team right off the bat and find the solutions that make the most sense for your organization.

Do you already have some sort of LMS that you’d like your leadership development program to integrate with? How would you like the connection to be made? Would a permalink do or should it be more involved?

Do you already have a password management tool so that keeping track of yet another login wouldn’t be an issue? Or would something like single sign on (SSO) eliminate friction?

Having the answers to these sorts of questions enables integrations to be started right away. This is important since they can often take at least three weeks to complete if your existing system is completely custom.

3. Identify Your Learner Audiences

Skills development training is easier to segment than leadership development. It’s obvious that the sales team would be the audience for a sales training workshop. But who should be the audience for your leadership development program?

For a much larger organization, you might lean towards only onboarding people-managers initially. But at a smaller, high-growth company, having all employees participate would help everyone embody your company’s core values while leveling up first-time managers, and retaining top talent by investing in their development.

Whether you launch company-wide or prefer to segment out select groups, knowing your learner audiences from the get-go is crucial to setting goals and selecting content.

4. Clarify the Goals of Your Leadership Development Strategy

What does each learner group need most, and what impact will development have on the organization? Specifically consider succession planning and compensation planning when individual contributors become people managers as a result of their leadership development.

Since leadership development can improve engagement, increase retention, build a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and increase revenue, it can be easy to want to target everything right away. But organizational change takes time, so clarifying your initial goals will help to concentrate the initial impact.

5. Know Which Leadership Content is a Priority

Once you’re clear on your company’s learner audiences and the goals, you’ll have an idea of what content they need.

Typically, you have to manually select content from various topics to build a unique curriculum for your organization. Fortunately, Paycor Paths simplifies this process. You can select collections or even complete pathways designed by adult learning and leadership experts that align with your audiences and their goals.

In both scenarios, knowing what type of content is right for each audience will keep you on track to launch a leadership development program in just a few weeks.

6. Set Expectations Around Usage

Workshops and seminars are simple. A calendar invite goes out, people show up and listen, and then the event is over. An ongoing leadership development strategy, however, can be more complicated. Should learners be engaging with content every day for a few minutes? Or should they go in once a week for a bit longer?

A practice-based learning approach focuses on giving learners the ability to gain knowledge about a concept, practice and make a plan, apply their knowledge in the real world, and then reflect on how it went and what they’ve learned. 

Have conversations with your people-managers. Ensure they make time for themselves and their teams to actively learn and practice the skills that will lead to real behavior change.

7. Build & Keep Up the Excitement Around Leadership Development

Adapting to change isn’t easy, and if you’re not sharing much about your leadership development strategy, resistance may be the default. Make time to build awareness and excitement by letting everyone in the organization know just how they’ll benefit. Have an idea of how you’d like to continue to engage learners in the months and years ahead, as well as how leadership development will align with events, company-wide initiatives, and performance reviews.

How Paycor Helps

Remember, you don’t have to be the one to manage everything. Use your internal champions to facilitate discussions with learners, send out occasional emails to keep people engaged, and find other simple ways to incorporate your learning development strategy into your company’s culture.

The seven steps above are ways to prepare for launching your learning development program. But you’re going to need support. Paycor can be your go-to resource while making your company’s leadership development strategy come to life.

A leadership development program can make a huge impact on your entire organization, but it doesn’t have to be a process that takes months or years to get started—it’s possible in just four weeks.