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Creating a Leadership Development Training Plan That Trains & Doesn't Just Entertain

leadership development training plan

You want a leadership development training plan that actually trains and grows your leader's skills, right?  Unfortunately the facts tell us the training is just entertainment (get the popcorn ready as you spend the big bucks) unless you implement some important (and easy) steps at the start.

Every CEO, COO, CFO and Human Resource Executive who spends money on training wants the same things, to:

  • Change unproductive behaviors
  • Drive performance higher
  • Equip employees with new, better skills
  • Improve profits

Alarming Facts About the 'Typical' Leadership Development Training Plan...

Corporations spend an average of 2.5% of all payroll dollars on training. That’s over $51.4 billion  a single year.  The last thing you want is for all that money for your leadership development plan to provide nothing more than fleeting entertainment!

Robert Brinkerhoff and Anne Apking, the authors of High Impact Learning, share that the 'typical'  leadership development plan used for training does in fact waste your training dollars.  They share some alarming insights about the impact most training has on the bottom line:

 "Almost all organizational training is a marginal intervention and has only slight effects on performance improvement.
If we define 'training impact' as simply the transfer of knowledge and skills to on-the-job performance, research
indicates that impact of training is realized only for about 15% of all training participants."

When we define the impact of training more rigorously, such as the application of new knowledge and skills to enhance performance in a way that makes a worthwhile difference to the business, then our evaluation studies typically show even more dismal results.”

Have you experienced low return on investment with your leadership development training plan programs? I've seen the same low lack of return in my own career as a training participant AND as a leadership training and development consultant.

It's always bugged me... there HAS to be a better way.

What Typically Happens... My Own Example:

Here's a good example of what happens: Early in my consulting career I attended a fantastic training program in beautiful LaJolla, California.  The trainer, the program, the location and the other participants were perfect!

I’m a good student. I learned a lot and I loved the class, and I had a great time! But when I got back to work, faced with my daily responsibilities, my resolve to implement all those great new ideas and skills waned.

I implemented a few of the skills taught in class.  I hate to admit it but I was definitely close to impact training average shared in the facts above, whereas I probably applied only about 15% of what I learned from my very expensive, well-run, five-day training course.

So What’s the Answer? How Do We Really a Change Behavior and Drive High Performance?  Three Actions You Should Take:

If You Want MORE Than Entertainment, there Are THREE Actions You Must Add to Your Leadership Development Training Plan.  If you want more skills learned in the classroom to be transferred back on the job, you must take these actions:

  • #1 - Make the training specific to the participant's skill gap(s)
  • #2 - Provide ongoing skill training & follow-up
  • #3 - Build-in participant accountability

How One Organization Added The Three Actions  To Their Leadership Development Training Plan...

leadership development training plan

The Situation:

A maintenance company with 90 managers and 2,000 employees created a confidential, tailored to their organizational behavioral priorities, employee opinion survey. Survey results revealed a clear message to the Executive Team: employees believed their managers were technically competent in the areas they supervised, but didn’t respect their managers’ leadership skills.

The company brought in a top training program that was geared specifically to address skills revealed as lacking in the opinion survey.

Solution and Analysis:

  • Managers (15 to 20 at a time) participated in a seven-day, one-day-a-week classroom leadership program.
  • Each training participant group practiced using specific communication and leadership skill steps in real-life workplace scenarios and role plays.
  • Each participant created their own leadership development training plan and committed to work an accountability partner during and after the program.
  • The one-day-a-week delivery format allowed managers to practice the new skills before their next class. They brought their experiences back to the classroom each week, discussed and refined their new skills.
  • The entire leadership team completed the seven week series.
  • As a follow up, each leader followed up with their accountability partner on a monthly basis.  Quarterly discussion groups lead by the top leadership helped ensure that the changed and new leadership skills and behavior 'took'.


leadership development training plan

By adding the top three actions: training tailored to the needs of the participants, follow-up and accountability this leadership development training plan and program worked! The next annual employee opinion survey showed a marked improvement in the leadership skills category, employee turnover decreased and productivity increased.

The Winning Formula:  First, this company identified the need for specific training. Then ,they created a true training cycle, with ongoing training, follow-up and accountability. The money this company spent on training provided much more than entertainment!  That's what we're after! 

Now, that we've trained well we have time for entertainment. Would you please pass the popcorn?

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