Leadership development programs

When you think about growing your business, what comes to mind? You’re probably concerned with making more sales, improving your product, marketing your brand or streamlining operations. But what about leadership development?

In recent years, the rise of tech companies along with an increase of millennials in the workforce – 72% of whom want opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers – have renewed interest in leadership development programs. But they’ve been around for decades; some of the earliest proponents were business giants like IBM, GE and Unilever. That’s because they don’t just create satisfied employees – they actually improve your bottom line.

It’s time to get on board with leadership development training – whether you want it for your business or yourself.

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What is a leadership development program?

One leadership development definition is that it’s “the process of recognizing potential and building management skills in your company.” A leadership development program is the strategy you use to do this. Like other business goals, it’s specific and measurable, so that you can back up your methods with numbers.

The purpose of a leadership development program is to give employees a clear path to management positions and allow you to promote from within. It does this by first recognizing potential and then developing it through a series of exercises and training. Some of the skills leadership development training works on are:

1. Collaboration:

Sometimes it can seem difficult to collaborate even between departments in the same building, nevermind from top to bottom and with offices across the world. Effective leadership development programs teach participants how to bridge these gaps.

2. Conflict resolution:

Conflict is inevitable in business and in life. Leadership development gives your employees the tools they need to mediate conflict professionally and neutrally.

3. Change management:

The business world moves fast. Companies need to be agile and able to respond – and leaders need to be prepared to help others adjust to the change.

4. Negotiation:

Negotiating is a subtle art that involves complex communication skills, empathy and confidence. The best programs will teach the components of negotiation and how to make them work for you.

5. Time management:

Even the best leaders won’t get anything done if they don’t have good time management. This is a skill that can be taught like any other, and is essential to any leadership development program.

Why is leadership development training important?

For an individual, the benefits are clear: you’ll gain new skills and make yourself much more hirable – and be able to command a higher salary. In a company, leadership development training increases employee morale and creates loyalty in your employees. This simple investment can create huge benefits for you business:

1. Improve retention:

The 2017 Retention Report from the Work Institute found that replacing an employee costs 33% of that employee’s annual salary – and that 75% of employee turnover is preventable. Leadership development programs are one of the most consistent ways employers can improve retention. Satisfied employees who feel appreciated are more likely to stay with the company.

2. Decrease costs:

While setting up leadership development training comes with upfront costs, it will improve your bottom line in the long run. Promoting from within cuts down on onboarding costs and saves your other employees time that would have been spent headhunting and interviewing – and time is money.

3. Create a positive culture:

There’s been a lot of focus on company culture in the modern business world, and it isn’t a passing fad. Employees increasingly value company culture when deciding where to work, and customers “vote” for responsible businesses with their hard-earned dollars. Investing in your human capital and providing professional development opportunities create that purpose-driven culture.

4. Be ready for anything:

Not everyone who begins your leadership development program will become a great leader in your company – and that’s OK. Everyone who participates will still learn valuable skills that are essential to running an agile, response-ready business.

5. Attract the best talent:

In any industry, great leaders attract top talent. When you do have a need to hire from the outside, your leaders will know how to spot and attract the best person for the job.

How to create a leadership development program

Tony says, “The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck” (and he’s in good company, as this idea originates from the Roman philosopher Seneca). Just as successful people aren’t naturally “lucky,” businesses with great leaders have put in the work to get where they are. Prepare a leadership development program, identify opportunity in your employees and you’ll soon have great leaders in your organization.

1. Understand yourself

people are walking down the street

Tony says that “Changing an organization, a company, a country – or a world – begins with the simple step of changing yourself.” Any business or team is only as strong as its leader. Before you can teach leadership, you must first master yourself. True leadership is about relationship building, influencing others and making the choices no one else can make. And you can’t do any of that without a deep understanding of your own psychology. Learn to ask yourself the right questions and surround yourself with people who will challenge you and help you grow and understand yourself. Then you’ll be ready to create a leadership development program.

2. Identify your needs

There are many different leadership styles – democratic, visionary, commanding and more. There is no one-size-fits-all definition of a leader that will work for every company and every situation. A startup experiencing high growth will need different skills than an established, hierarchical business. A collaborative environment will need different skills than a top-down structure.

Make a list of the qualities you want, including both soft and hard skills, which can include qualities like being adaptable to change, inspiring others, excellent public speaking or sales abilities and being innovative and forward-thinking. This is your starting point for leadership development – the employees you enroll in the program should have these skills.

a man is looking at the bright sign

3. Determine your participants

how to create a leadership development program

Identifying leadership potential within your organization isn’t always easy. It can be tempting to focus on technical skills or educational background because these are easy to see and quantify. However, high-performing employees don’t always become great leaders. A few key leadership skills you can look for to identify potential leaders include:

Communication skills:

Effective communication isn’t just about delegating. In fact, we spend about 45% of our communication time listening. Can you identify good listeners on your team?


Is there someone on your team who has a good rapport with other team members? Who do your team members go to when they have a problem or need help? This person is most likely a natural leader.

Passion and purpose:

What is a leadership development program if not an opportunity to create the next generation of employees to carry on your company vision and purpose? Find employees who truly live your company’s core values and give them a chance to shine.

two men are communicating and laughing

4. Set goals and measure results

goal review in the notebook

Don’t just throw potential leaders into a new role and call it a day. “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible,” as Tony says. Every leadership development program needs concrete SMART goals in order to measure progress and determine whether your employees are succeeding. For example:

  • Completing a workshop or seminar
  • Completing an online program
  • Developing and delivering a presentation for a big client or account
  • Training new hires on hard or soft skills
  • Being a “manager for a day,” shadowing a current manager and helping them make decisions
  • Working in a different department or role to challenge comfort zones

Your potential leaders will have different skills and varying levels of development, so your plan will need to be individualized for each employee. It can include things like:

1. Completing a workshop or seminar

2. Completing an online program

3. Developing and delivering a presentation for a big client or account

4. Training new hires on hard or soft skills

5. Being a “manager for a day,” shadowing a current manager and helping them make decisions

6. Working in a different department or role to challenge comfort zones

a list of leadership development programs

5. Reward top performers

rewarding the best leaders

You’ve carefully chosen the most passionate, reliable and relatable people on your team, and rewarding them for their hard work is essential. However, their motivation may not be what you think – and monetary rewards may not be the best method. Sometimes, laying off the micromanaging can be a reward, as it shows that you trust them.

Assigning top performers big clients or accounts is another way to show you have faith in their skills. For collaborative leaders, planning a team-building experience or a fun event can be rewarding. The best leadership development programs customize rewards based on leaders’ personalities and strengths.

Top leadership development programs

Does thinking about how to create a leadership development program seem overwhelming? Let the experts handle it for you.

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins’ Leadership Academy will uncover your inner leader, giving you all the skills you need to take charge, inspire others and advance in your career. Go for that upper management role – or even the C-suite – and make the transformation you’ve always wanted in your company or your life.

Tony’s Business Coaching will get your business back on track in all areas. Learn how to create a massive action plan to spark positive change in leadership, growth and more. Your coach is your support system, so that you can support others.

tony robbins leadership

Gary Vee and Grant Cardone

gary vee leadership

The National Achievers Congress, run by business titans Gary Vee and Grant Cardone, is another place you can surround yourself with positive energy and great leaders striving to be their best. They bring in leading speakers and entrepreneurs from all industries to teach the latest leadership methods.

Whether you choose to create your own leadership development program or turn to the experts for guidance, you’re sure to see amazing benefits within your organization.

Want to develop your leadership skills today?

Learn everything you need to know about leadership development and more through Tony Robbins’ 7 Forces free content series.