How to Create a Successful Leadership Development Program

How to Create a Leadership Development Program

Organizations want to recruit and develop accounting and finance employees with good leadership skills: The future of the business depends on it. Leaders are needed throughout the business at all levels, and succession plans should be in place to offer a pathway to management roles. If you are in a leadership position, it’s crucial that you participate in preparing a leadership development program for your employees.

This is a way to offer your finance team members the opportunity to develop the skills they need to move up within your company and grow in their careers — an opportunity that’s very important to today’s professionals. Besides employee retention, other intangible but very real perks of such programs include improving morale, boosting creativity, and helping employees feel more connected to your business.

If you think your company can benefit from a formal leadership development program, read on to learn four of the most important steps you can take to get started.

1. Define your company’s leadership needs

What does leadership mean to your business? Make a list of traits your firm finds valuable in a leader. For best results, dig deep and don’t just use vague descriptors such as “go-getting” or “perceptive.”

As you’re making this list, keep in mind any specific “leadership gaps” within your organization — the attributes and characteristics that may be missing or will surface as current leaders near retirement. Some companies create “leadership tracks” that address different issues, such as leading and motivating teams, clarity in communication, or business development.

Also, ask yourselves how the process will assist your organization in meeting both its short-term and long-term goals. For example, if your company has specific growth plans, your program should be synced to those priorities.

2. Develop, don’t train

Remember that leaders can be nurtured and developed, but not manufactured. A good leadership development program will put participants into situations that require them to learn and grow, such as giving candidates the opportunity to lead when other leaders are away.

Programs often include mentoring, training, and organizational planning, with individual activities such as rotational assignments, job shadowing, and project leadership. They may also include classroom training, such as MBA programs, executive education, and online courses. Support the participants with feedback and coaching; this can be especially helpful coming from senior managers who can serve as role models and mentors.

3. Identify potential leaders

Potential leaders may be anywhere in your company. They may be staff-level employees or current managers. What they will have in common is a desire to move up even further or improve at their jobs. However, a good program also helps to polish “diamonds in the rough” and strengthen the skills of employees who may as of yet not be confident as leaders.

The bottom line: Make sure all employees are aware of leadership development opportunities at your organization. Encourage, but don't pressure, team members to learn more about them.

4. Measure results

Though the last step to be implemented, program assessment must be designed at the outset. Ask yourself before you start how you will measure your program’s success and impact. Some measurement options include:

  • The number of participants who completed the program successfully
  • The number of participants you’ve been able to promote, or increase their leadership responsibilities
  • Whether peers feel participants are developing into effective leaders

In your evaluation, assess whether employees developed leadership skills that will help them be more effective at their current jobs, not just qualify them for promotions down the line.


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No Understudies for Star Performers? Time for a Succession Plan: Could someone easily step in and do your job if you left the company today? What about other financial executives in your organization? Who is waiting in the wings to take their place — and are those understudies ready for the spotlight? Read this post to learn why it's unwise for managers to put succession planning on the back burner.

How to Deliver Constructive Criticism in the Workplace: If you’re hoping to train your employees to take on more advanced roles in the organization and evolve into leaders, constructive criticism is one of the most valuable things you can offer as a manager. This post offers advice for doing it right.

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