When organizations expend resources, stakeholders look for quantifiable means to demonstrate a return on investment. Leadership development programs (LDPs) do not easily lend themselves to quantifiable measures; trying to apply calculable means (such as organizational profit and loss) to measure leadership performance may yield horrendous indicators, and if used may hurt an LDPs effectiveness.
All assessment tools, even data evolved from the most analytical process, invite debate, a counter argument or a counter to the counter argument. Throughout my leadership studies, practicing leadership and striving to mentor and develop leaders, I found three groupings that, when applied within the context of organizational goals, accurately measure LDP effectiveness.
1) Buy-in: Does the leadership development training audience buy into the program’s methodology? Once leader-candidates are ready to be practitioners of their trade, are they motivated and ready to effectively employ the methods taught throughout the LDP? When those methods are employed, do the teams respond in a manner that has a positive impact on the organization (people) and its goals (mission)?
2) Leadership succession: LDPs should inspire, ensure, and directly contribute to building a strong leadership bench from which to pull replacements. Leadership succession is existential to an organization’s long-term success. When a person is chosen to advance, they should arrive at their new post with a level of leadership intelligence (LI) and ready to successfully lead in the higher position of influence and responsibility when the opportunity presents itself.
3) Coaching/teaching effectiveness: Coaching is a methodology focused on developing a co-active relationship where the leader and the process are a catalyst to promote subordinate self-discovery that will lead to a permanent increase in LI. Coaching differs from consulting and training in that the subordinate is actually a slight“majority shareholder” in determining areas for improvement. Leader-subordinate collaboration is key to discovering the path toward leadership change. The best leaders understand (learn) how to tailor coaching, teaching and instructional methods to most effectively build leaders. They grasp how to, discover the root cause of, and exploit failures, and (most importantly) are adept at providing fixes that iteratively improve the team.
LDPs are an essential ingredient for organizational success and are most effective when married to individual experiences and learning directly from well-respected and trusted. A mutually inclusive LDP will optimize an organization’s leadership legacy by identifying and investing in leadership candidates that, in-turn, “choose” the organization by espousing the organization’s ideas and philosophies. (http://www.rhoneccg.com/blog/mutually-inclusive-leadership-development).
Metrics are useful tools and can be indicators of success when applied with the correct context. Misused measurements can be tricky at best. At their worst, they can result in LDP changes that negatively impact an organization’s ability to build effective leadership teams and accomplish the mission. Develop the process, determine the best way to assess the process (buy-in, leadership succession, and coaching/teaching effectiveness are a few options) and either trust the process or change it.