Summary: It could be tempting to take the easy way out by sending your leaders off to open leadership courses. But if you are considering a move toward running your own customized program, that decision to put in the hard work yourselves together with expert leadership trainers might just be worth it.
I am often asked how our customized company training programs differ from open courses for leaders participating from many organizations.
This is not an easy question to answer as so many things can differ such as enrolment, structure, theory, methodology and practicalities. Yes, there are many variables before we even reach the selection of topics, learning objectives and exercises.
But I would like to share one key “trump card” of internal programs which have been customized to fit the development of leaders in your organization. The trump is to identify and agree on the cornerstone.
That is the cornerstone for the program’s existence. So, the real question is not how but why the programs are different? When considering the purpose, the sponsors and designers must ask themselves: “From which key drivers are we looking to develop our leaders, and why are they to be prioritized?” They identify the cornerstone.
The answer to these questions cannot be general such as “We want them have better leadership skills”, or “We wish them to train all the skills needed to transition to their next leadership level”.
When customizing an organization’s leadership development program, we do not work with generic topics separated from the organizational context, but with a selection of prioritized themes and skills aligned to the specific context which the concrete organization is moving toward.
Instead of starting with a list of topics, customized company programs start with the cornerstone – a shared understanding of a combination of drivers such as:
- Implementing and anchoring your organization’s values through leadership behaviour.
- Delivering on your strategy by leaders running change and creating business results.
- Improving prioritized organization’s leadership as indicated by performance surveys.
The planning and design effort required to successfully move from this cornerstone analysis to a fully implemented leadership program is paid back later. It happens when the organization understands and gets involved. When each leader’s development on the program is truly supported by their team, peers, leader and top management. The participating leaders accelerate their leadership development and networking – and the whole organization moves and benefits together.
This is different from participants arriving, each from their own organization, at an open course where they constantly refer to their individual company context.
There are, of course, advantages to enrolling your leaders on open courses, but the multiple business returns of customized, internal leadership programs are heavily underestimated. They can be your organization’s game changer.