Designing A Program That’s Right For Your Business
Building a good business plan is an essential step on the road to success. Knowing what you aim to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it are both crucial if your business is to move forwards. But these are not the only questions that need answering.
You have to carefully consider whether or not you have the skills and resources you need to accomplish everything you want to. This is particularly problematic if there is a lack of leadership in your senior team.
If there is a gap between the skills you need to deliver your business plan, and the skills you have at your disposal, what are your options for building a top-tier development program?
1 – Focus on the skills you need
Typical leadership programs usually take a formulaic approach, promoting a standard suit of skills that the ‘average’ business needs. This can be a fine approach in theory, but it is usually inadequate to reach high level performance.
The problem is that no business is truly ‘average’. It will always be the case that each business is unique, and will thus require a unique set of skills to meet its business plan.
Focussing on the skills you need when designing a leadership program my sound obvious, but it is often overlooked by pre-packed management and leadership courses. Don’t make that mistake.
2 – Focus the development around the delivery of real work
As I have said before, one of the best ways to develop the skills you need in your business is to build skills during ‘business as usual’.
We are all familiar with the classic team building cliches: building a raft from planks of wood and barrels, solving a difficult puzzle or a ‘thinking outside the box’ exercise. These may indeed build teams, but in terms of the skills you need, they are going to be lacking.
Your team will (hopefully) never find themselves needing to build an impromptu raft, and while some of the skills they gain by doing so will be transferrable, it is far more productive to build skills in the context you intend to use them.
3 – Plan for continuous improvement
A good leadership program will put you ahead of the competition. An excellent leadership program will let you stay there.
Instead of giving leaders a set of skills and sending them off back to work, why not teach them to sustain their own development as well? If leaders are taught how to identify their own areas of development and given the right tools, they will do so. they will develop themselves long after the program is over.
After all, who better to recognise and fill the skill gaps of your business than the people who are exposed to the gaps daily?
4 – Stay with it until the required skills become mastered
One of the most important parts of any leadership program is what comes afterwards. Learning to imitate skills for a week is easy, but true learning and incorporating skills into day to day functioning is far more difficult.
The brain is structured in such a way that long term, lasting change does not come easily. A leadership course needs to be designed to reflect this – I frequently work with clients for six months or more, helping sustain the momentum for managers to grow into leaders.
Designing a bespoke development program can be difficult and time consuming, but as has so often proven to be the case it is well worth the effort. If done right, it will pay for itself many times over.