Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash
Choice + Leadership Development = a Powerful Formula
In late 2018, we shared an example of a client program where we were trying to implement a new leadership trend: Allowing leaders to create personalized learning paths within a “choose-your-own-adventure” style development program.
During this 18-month program, we set out to provide participants a variety of opportunities and allow them to select the development path that most closely aligned to their goals. Each leader had access to leadership and management skill development across a variety of formats:
- Half-day, in-person, experiential sessions to strengthen and build skills on important leadership competencies
- Informal lunch + learn sessions to help deep-dive on leadership skills
- Senior leader presentations to bring awareness to leaders about various business topics
- Group coaching sessions intended to deepen understanding of leadership challenges and create a forum to cross-share “what works” between leaders
- Monthly, on-demand, e-learning training matched to each month’s competency focus area that can be taken at the time and place that works best for the leader
- Bite-sized leadership tips sent biweekly through a reinforcement smart-phone app called Mindmarker
We shared a progress update with the client after the first 12 months and, as promised, we’re keeping you updated on the progress too!
Participation is Rising
The concept of letting participants choose what to attend was in direct contrast with the client’s original policy for trainings, where attendance was required. It was a challenge to counter the client’s reluctance as they were naturally skeptical that letting participants choose to attend or not would maintain attendance, let alone increase it. The data from the first year of the program is great proof – we’ve seen a great increase in participation, from lower than 50 percent in the original mandatory program to greater than 75 percent total participation!
While it may seem counterintuitive, the increased participation rates are a great sign that making a program choice-oriented instead of mandatory engages participants more fully.
It comes back to the need to feel empathy for everything our leaders are facing and to really manage the investment required by participating in a leadership program. Our leaders have a lot of to-do items competing with their time for development, so it’s critical for us to pave the path as smoothly as possible to facilitate their development. By putting leaders in the driver’s seat and giving them choice and accountability, you empower them and allow them to tailor their learning path to what’s crucial for them. When they choose the in-person sessions or group coaching sessions that resonate with them, we increase their overall outlook of development. It goes from a checkbox to an exciting, valuable opportunity.
Participants have consistently ranked some topics as highly valuable, most likely to recommend, and/or most informational, which has given both the HR team and our consulting team great insight into participant needs and interests. It’s no surprise that foundational skills like time management, team dynamics, feedback skills, and We are constantly seeing emotional intelligence in what companies and leaders are looking for. It’s clearly a critical skill for 21st century leaders.
However, it has been especially exciting to see topics that specifically relate to the business at the top of the list. Senior leader presentations about the business model and different functional groups have been highly recommended and rated as very informational. At FlashPoint, we also see that as an indication of just how important it is to have senior leader buy-in and engagement for development. Senior leaders and executive teams have a full schedule so by showing up and participating in these programs they are setting a great example and modeling the way for their employees.
If all this leaves you wondering if you should include more choice in your organization’s leadership development offerings, reach out to our team! We’re happy to help you build a program that engages leaders at every level.