A Guide to Organizational and Leadership Development Training


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Organizational and leadership development training is a course — or series of courses — where employees are trained to become leaders and/or managers.

Investing in this type of training is a great way to improve employees’ advanced strategy and leadership skills. It can also encourage employees to pursue better opportunities, improve innovation, and develop their understanding of challenges the business may face.

Introducing company-wide leadership training offers a competitive advantage to a business — even over an industry. 

The Corporate Leadership Training Landscape

In 2021, the size of the corporate leadership training market was $376.3 billion, with the expectation of a 2.25% growth rate by 2023. However, while the legitimacy of an investment in this type of training is clear, the allocation of funding for corporate training programs is unbalanced.

It is estimated that 80% of the learning and development market share is dedicated solely to the top 20% of an organization (executives and higher) globally. 

Meaning: despite leadership training being of most use to early and mid-career employees (as they advance to higher rungs of the corporate ladder), the C-suite reaps the spoils.

Training for Executives

Executive training is usually a one-on-one type of training with a professional coach. This type of tailored guidance can help enhance performance based on the individual’s goals and challenges, allowing them to concentrate on what’s most important. 

Advantages of Executive Training

  • Improved decision-making from the top-down.
  • Strong motivation in positions of leadership.
  • Improved work/life balance for executives.
  • Enhanced confidence and enjoyment in the role.

Disadvantages of Executive Training 

  • Expensive: because of the price tag, only a select handful at the highest rungs enjoy this type of training, further distancing employees from leadership.
  • Exclusive: high quality executive training programs often require applications and vetting, which could be vulnerable to biases around “what a good leader looks like.”
  • Demanding and time-intensive, which could prove to be stressful.

Leadership Development Techniques

Because formal executive training is not easily scalable across an entire organization, common leadership development techniques rely on self-driven collaboration from employees throughout the organization, and/or “quick fixes” to niche skills development through pre-recorded courses or webinars.

Some of the more effective learning methods in this bracket include: 

  • One-on-one mentorship: Combine senior executives with leaders who may have just taken on a new role, and/or “high potentials” who show interest in scaling their involvement in the organization. Through one-on-one partnerships and knowledge-sharing, employees learn from their peers how to lead within their organization.
  • Group skill-sharing: Host collaborative sessions across departments to tackle real-world problems and spit-ball solutions to current business struggles. Teams can practice, exchange, and build their skills alongside a practical use case, offering business leaders a chance to discover and identify potential future leaders.
  • Self-directed learning: MOOCs, pre-recorded courses, etc. This form of learning is helpful to improve hard skills, but may not be as effective for bolstering growth in more general areas of leadership, like feedback and strategy-based development, due to its isolated nature.

Two employees having a leadership meeting.

Make Leadership and Management Development a Priority

Leadership development is one of the most important issues businesses face today. Many attrition trends paint a picture of employees either feeling they lack opportunities for advancement and/or feeling they are not fairly invested in by their companies. 

But even aside from the obvious benefits in terms of retention and skill development, leadership training has the potential to influence the bottom line in the following (amongst other) ways:

  1. Improve financial performance: Building a stronger pipeline of future leaders allows businesses to reduce costs wasted on attrition, improve revenue and overall satisfaction rates of their employees. 
  2. Boosting employee engagement: Better leaders can be beneficial to attracting, hiring, and inspiring people. 
  3. Effective strategy execution: Businesses need to equip their employees with strong people management and leadership skills to rally teams and properly execute their business strategy.
  4. Introducing change: When leadership development becomes a company-wide priority — and not just an “upper rung perk” — businesses more meaningfully make strides to diversify voices in positions of authority.

Effective Leadership Development

Alas, developing leaders throughout an enterprise is no easy feat, especially when relying solely on traditional methods and/or a combination of expensive executive training programs. 

Effective leadership development should be: 

  • Continuous: Employees should pursue a learning journey to assure retention and application of skills learned.
  • Community-based: Building a strong network within the company is invaluable as a leader. It also helps create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and/or cross-vertical advancement.
  • Scalable: The leadership curriculum should have the capacity to be delivered to more than just a niche group of “high potentials” or the already-leadership-savvy C-suite level of staff. This training is most fitting for entry-level and individual contributors.
  • Collaborative: Especially with the participant’s team leaders and managers.

All that said…effective employee development is impossible without buy-in and support from managers, who are deserving of their own, specific training to succeed.

Leadership Training Topics for Managers

Setting the next generation of leaders up for success is no easy feat. Despite managers playing a critical role in developing future leadership, new or mid-level managers rarely receive training on how best to do so. 

For instance, the following skills are critical, but rarely delivered in the formal curriculum:

  • Communication skills: Leaders must be able to articulate business struggles, strategies, and effectively give direction to a team.
  • Time management: From an administrative perspective, managing a team is time-intensive, but managers need to know how to prioritize personal connections on their team alongside the minutiae in order to succeed. 
  • Handling conflict: Learning how to resolve conflicts quickly and appropriately can turn disagreements into growth lessons, creating stronger relationships in the workplace.
  • Motivation: Guidance and support from leaders can help motivate employees to improve productivity, offer more creative solutions, and remain loyal to the company over time. 
  • Delegation: Leaders should know how to delegate tasks to the right people — not just the team members who will deliver the best results, but the ones who will feel fueled and inspired by the work at hand.

A manager motivating their employee.

Leadership Training Objectives

When proper management training is combined with leadership development training across the enterprise, this enables businesses to fulfill vital objectives, such as: 

1. Increasing Retention Rates

Most of the time, employees claim their lack of career advancement or opportunities is a key indicator of resigning. 

Putting strategies and competencies to advance and succeed in employees’ hands early on is key to keeping high-quality talent on board.

2. Improving Productivity and Collaboration 

If all employees at all levels are empowered to lead, larger, cross-functional projects can be carried out more efficiently, improving confidence in collaboration between departments.

3. Improving Innovation

When more employees are motivated to assert their voices and offer creative solutions — effectively, relative to their understanding of the business’s goals and struggles — companies make faster, more efficient strides to innovate.

4. Improving Diversity, Equality and Inclusion 

Women and BIPOC frequently get stuck at the entry level due to promotion biases. 

By training them to be leaders and advocate for themselves effectively (alongside training managers to better uplift their voices), businesses help bolster their opportunities and prospects for advancement

5. A Stronger Company Culture

Employees appreciate the top-down investment in their growth and development. When delivered effectively, it creates a stronger community of motivated employees. 

Solutions to Leadership Training for Companies

Because the current trend tends to favor top executives and neglect leadership development training for the rest of the organization, businesses may find themselves lacking an ROI in their learning and development sector. 

And it’s no wonder why, considering the expense (and feasibility) of scaling high quality management and leadership training has for so long reinforced barriers to equitable advancement across the corporate landscape. 

To help businesses tackle the full picture of employee development, and deliver more leadership opportunities to more people (without killing the budget), The Forem offers the following solutions:

  • Level Up: Enterprise Scale Leadership Training to build your pipeline of forward-thinkers (for employees at any stage in their career).
  • Manager Essentials to develop more effective, empathetic managers. Whether they’re new or seasoned, this program delivers the essential capacities needed for managers to optimize and uplift their teams.
  • The Forem’s platform for continued reinforcement of learning, stakeholder mapping, networking, 1:1 mentorship, and audience management tools to help business leaders track engagement and ROI.

Get more advice or schedule a demo with The Forem.