7 Problems That Will Derail Your Leadership Development Initiatives

“Knowledge is not power; it is only potential. Applying that knowledge is power. Understanding why and when to apply that knowledge is wisdom.” – Takeda Shingen

As a business owner, you are likely aware of how expensive employee turnover is and how crucial an engaged workplace is. Leadership development plays an invaluable role in this. A recent survey found that 71% of millennials expect to leave their employer in the next two years, and they are unhappy with the way their leadership skills are being developed. Essentially, this means the majority of your workplace is not satisfied with their overall career development. Leadership training plays a large role in that. So, what does this mean for you? Why should you care about your employees and their leadership development, or lack thereof?

The above is why we launched a leadership development platform that addresses the most common mistakes businesses make. At A Better Leader, we provide online training for companies to create a strong workplace culture and build confident and motivated leaders. Investing in your employees’ leadership development is crucial for their engagement levels and willingness to stay with your company and contribute to your company culture.

Most companies would agree that leadership development is critical, and the majority include it in their budgets each year. But that’s the easy part. Things get complicated when tracking and measuring the impact of leadership development. Below, we will cover seven of the most common pitfalls that prevent companies from executing a successful leadership development program.

1. No Clearly-Defined Goal

Having leadership development training just for the sake of it probably won’t yield any significant results. Experienced leaders know that all aspects of a business must tie into its overall vision, values, and goals. At the beginning of any leadership development initiative, take the time to carve out precise goals. This will ensure you can measure and track your results later on and make adjustments if necessary.

For example, Your company just gave an anonymous survey to all employees. One area scored particularly low: 2 out of 5 on positivity in the workplace. Your goal should be: Increase the average score of positivity in the workplace by 20% in the next 6 months. We will dedicate our leadership training to develop skills that create happy and fulfilled employees. We will measure employee happiness and satisfaction every 2 months to be able to make iterative changes. This will ensure we can hit our goal of a 20% increase.

2. No Hands-on Experience

Research has shown that many people learn best by doing – not by listening to or reading educational materials. Whether you’re teaching strategic planning, emotional intelligence, coaching, or any other skill, leaders must get their feet wet. Exercises that get professionals out of their comfort zone and collaborating with others will ease them into integrating new skills.

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3. Uninspiring Training Materials 

Content that is boring, tedious, or fails to communicate why professionals should care will miss the mark – no matter how important the information is. Moving away from thick training guides, technical jargon, and stressful assignments will have trainees breathing a sigh of relief. 

Instead, companies can move toward things like engaging events or automated platforms that seamlessly integrate the learning process with trainees’ everyday life.

4. Bogged Down by New Technology

Yes, technology can revolutionize the learning process – but only if businesses select the right tools that meet their unique needs. In addition, any technology implemented must be intuitive for users, providing more solutions than it does headaches. 

If you find that clunky technology is only slowing down or complicating your LD program, it may be time to go back to the basics.

5. No Personalization in Training Materials

You may have a high-quality leadership development program, but how personalized of an experience does each person receive?? Older training programs may require annual updates, and even newer programs purchased from an outside source may need customization to be relevant. Ask your team if your training materials are relevant to their roles, company and learning styles.

6. No Alignment with Business Strategy

Similar to point #5, if your learning materials are not compatible with your company’s overall strategy, they won’t be practically useful to employees. For example, a sales team learning adaptive sales techniques will be wasting their time if the company primarily relies on other strategies. It’s important to ensure that employees are learning skills they’ll be practicing in their day-to-day routines.

Business strategies change constantly. Companies are adapting an agile approach. Leadership development needs to be flexible in order to stay up-to-date with workplace trends and allow your growing leaders to stay flexible as they work with diverse teams.

7. No Post-Training Plan

It’s the downfall of even the most successful leadership development efforts – no follow-through. Many companies will budget sufficiently, customize training appropriately, and even set smart objectives. Without a post-training plan, success can still elude them. 

A post-training plan requires that companies have a regular practice of following up with trainees. This may include using data to track a program’s effectiveness with specific metrics. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re overwhelmed by all the moving parts of getting your training running efficiently, we’re here to help. Clearly, there are some common pitfalls associated with leadership training. A Better Leader is a leadership development program rooted in genuine employee engagement and positive workplace culture. A productive, motivated workplace is just on the horizon – learn how to become an employer of choice with us.

About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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