Why most leadership development programmes are probably a waste of time and money

Leadership Development is a huge business, but most of it is a waste of time and money.

In small, medium and large businesses leadership development seems to be the rage these days. Most organisations are engaged in some sort of leadership, change management, or culture change development programme. These organisations are desperate to maximise the effectiveness of their programmes.

Here’s how to do just that – keep the following four things in mind:

  1. Don’t mistake a survey for a strategy

Too many businesses conduct 360-degree interviews on their leaders and think that’s the job done! While a survey about leadership strengths (and areas for improvement) is a good starting point, it’s not the road map, or action plan, needed for an effective leadership development programme.

An effective programme includes:

  • An assessment of some sort (360-degree, competency levels, assessment centre, psychometrics).
  • A 6-12 month plan for improvement with specific goals and defined projects.
  • Measurable outcomes, both subjective and objective.
  • A coach, mentor, or other individual who can help drive the process to tangible and measurable improvements everyone can see and benefit from.



  1. Do directly link development with business improvement

Too often companies put leaders through a development programme aimed at creating a hodge-podge of positive virtues, such as being a good listener, delegator, or communicator, empowering others and being fair and trusted etc. While these may form the foundation of leadership development, the devil is in the detail of how they’ll be used to positively move the dials on the business performance dashboard.

Specifically defining the new attitudes, capabilities, skills and behaviours you are looking for from your leaders helps ensure they’ll be more effective at improving performance, results, morale and team spirit.



  1. You need to encourage people to participate

In an ideal world, every leader in your business should be knocking down your door requesting some form of personal and leadership development. Leaders in a business are usually the least trained and developed in any organisation.

Leaders often feel vulnerable (although they won’t admit it) and they don’t want to be “shown up” or exposed in front of their peers on the development programme. Once it’s explained that it’s a “safe” environment and the results will make their life (and that of their team) a heck of a lot easier, they will find the idea of a leadership development programme exciting.


  1. Consider calling in outside specialists (with a proven track record)

While you or your HR staff may think you have the capability to create and deliver an effective leadership development programme, there is a case to be made for bringing in specialist help from the outside.

The opportunity for objective feedback, a safe place to share feelings and an unbiased perspective can greatly enhance the benefit individuals receive from a leadership development programme.

Impartial, independent, deeply professional specialists who know leadership development programmes are about creativity and sustainable business improvements – and not just “ticking boxes” – are a priceless asset when used properly.

Development taken on to “tick the boxes” of supposedly good leadership behaviour wastes your money and your time. When embraced as a true path to company excellence and personal development, the benefits reaped by both the individual and the business usually go well beyond the price paid.

An effective leadership programme, designed specifically to drive business improvement, will give you the best ROI of any investment you make over the next few years.


Just look at the improvements we’ve helped organisations make:-

  • As a result of our work with an organisation in the manufacturing industry they reduced ‘defects’ by 84.6% within 12 months
  • Another 90 people organisation in the engineering industry had increased profits by £600,000 … after breaking even in previous years
  • Also, after working with an organisation in the oil and gas industry, we helped them drive performance and achieve their stretching growth plan of 5 years in less than 2 years

If you want your business and its people to be more successful, you need to contact us now. The results will take your breath away.


Sign up below

Enter your email address below to subscribe today!

[mc4wp_form id="3580"]

Let us kick start your journey

Get our free Business Performance Improvement Starter Pack, featuring 4 reports full of our tried and tested techniques to kick start your business improvement journey.