Millennials are quickly filling up many new and mid-level management positions and there is a high chance that they will be the majority of the global workforce soon. And although most of the top-level managers are aware of this trend, questions are being raised on whether they are adequately prepared (not due to smarts but due to experience level). While organizations always try to keep their leadership updated with the current events in the corporate world through Leadership development programs, many feel like the training programs should be refurbished to include much of what is happening today.
In the “State of Leadership Development Report” published by Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning in 2018, only one-third of the business leaders interviewed said they become more productive after participating in leadership development programs. Conversely, 80% of the participants agreed that there was a need for innovation when formulating leadership development initiatives. Besides, leadership development programs need to have well-curated content, compelling ROI, and alignment with the organization’s goals.
The hard question for organizations is how they can incorporate innovations in leadership development training to prepare and hone leadership skills that reflect todays and future demands.
Innovative Solutions for Leadership Development Programs
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Leadership development doesn’t necessarily need to be theoretical and many argue should be solely real-world. Organizations can introduce experiential learning opportunities, which can lead to the development of skills that are critical to leadership such as leader behavior, business acumen, strategic thinking and organization resilience. These include things such as problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. Contrary to the current leadership development programs that are reserved for “high performing” workers, newly formulated experiential training programs should include all managers with real potential.
Below are a few insights on how to develop experiential learning opportunities:
- Create opportunities that spark excitement from workers – Instead of having a rigid leadership development program that lacks anything enjoyable, you can tweak the program to include fun parts that give employees a purpose and gets them engaged. Examples include deeply challenging, team based case study competition(s).
- Reverse Mentoring Programs – Offer the younger workers the opportunity to mentor top-level leaders, and let there be a clear understanding of generational differences in your organization.
- Create a skills-based volunteering program – Most of the workers who participate in volunteer leadership development programs agree that you can actually learn more when volunteering than when taking part in a work program.
- Develop an internal accelerator program – Let your employees brainstorm some innovative ideas and real business cases, and then devise reasonable initiatives that will engage them as well as improve your business.
- Launch management-in-training programs – this is where you give employees the chance to shadow existing leaders and perform their roles.
Another innovative strategy that seems to be catching the attention of millennials is the use of learner-driven development strategy. This involves a set of things such as using experimentation and skill practice as part of the training, teaching storytelling as a skill, and integrating new technologies such as virtual classroom into the leadership development program. These attention-grabbing practice-based learning has proved to be an effective leadership development technique.
With some program companies even going to the extent of using designs that are taught by theater trained actors, it seems like self-directed learning is the next massive trend in leadership development training. As different stakeholders throw in their thoughts on this type of learning, organizations are asking their workers to participate in the self-driven training and see if this different approach can yield satisfactory outcomes.
As part of their leadership development programs, many companies are starting to embrace the act of worker rotation. For example, E. & J. Gallo, top wine-producing companies in the world, has a program where employees are rotated across business units. The program allows workers to move from one unit to the next not only in their respective company but also in another one that is part of their distribution network. Amazon employees also get rotation from their usual position every 18 months.
Whether it is a multinational company or medium-sized organization, employee rotation has proved to develop well-rounded and responsible leaders. Check out the following insights on where to rotate your staff:
- Create New Startups – Nothing brings out leadership qualities more than being exposed to a fast-moving and resource-constrained environment. Let aspiring and existing leaders join hands to propel the startup you have created. By rotating them into core and unfilled positions in the startup, you’ll sharpen their skills and encourage them to strategize.
- Join nonprofit, community help centers, and schools – Look for organizations that benefit your customers and let your employees take some time working there. Apart from helping them acquire diversified skills, they’ll get the chance to serve your customers.
- Participate in international skills-based volunteering opportunities. An organization can create a program where its employees join hands with other like-minded individuals to volunteer their skills for initiatives that bring a positive impact. They not only help to make the world a better place but also get to interact with other innovative leaders and share skills and experiences.
Specialized Training Programs
The use of specialized training programs is another innovative way of being used by organizations to develop leaders. The program is basically based on the input you get when performing a need gap assessment. Instead of covering the entire spectrum of leadership, the program can concentrate on specific areas and skillsets unavailable in your organization. Furthermore, they can subdivide your leaders into smaller groups for more customized learning.
You can expand your program to incorporate:
- Case studies from real-world examples from your company
- Tons of group discussions and exercises covering various topics
- Games or other intuitive methods of learning that can enhance the learning of new skills.
Leadership Development Business Simulations
For decades, some of the top global companies have utilized business simulations within leadership development. These tools are a mix of team based case study learning, leadership behavior application learning, and business/strategic acumen learning all bundled into a high paced and highly engaging hands-on activity. These solutions most often help apply your leadership development content back to the business in a very real way without introducing the risk to the organization. Today’s learner loves these solutions and methods.
With much of what is going on in the corporate world, organizations should stand tall and ensure that they effectively and diligently develop and shape aspiring and existing leaders. By designing and delivering innovative leadership development training programs, they can create robust businesses that will be successful even in the years to come. Whether they fancy learner-driven training programs, rotational programs, or those that provide business simulation based experiential learning opportunities, they are all a great start to resolve the existing leadership gap.