3 tips for enabling collaboration in the development of leaders

Samantha Caine

Blog post by Samantha Caine

Samantha Caine, is the Client Services Director at Business Linked Teams and has over 20 years experience working as a strategic training and recruitment expert for a variety of international businesses. She works with organisations to develop interactive, training solutions and oversees the implementation of global sales and leadership programmes that are aligned with leading edge thinking from across the world


1st July 2019

Leadership development is a growing trend across many industries. A wide variety of organisations are beginning to acknowledge that developing leadership internally has many benefits. From reducing the time and cost involved in recruiting from outside the business to improving retention of existing talent, investment in internal leadership development provides an attractive alternative. 

But when it comes to implementing leadership development programmes, businesses often struggle to decide where the responsibility for development lays. Recent research from BLT finds different departments and functions at odds over where the responsibility should fall.

While the research finds 92 percent of organisations currently have a leadership programme in place, many seem to lack a cohesive approach meaning they are struggling with the practicalities of rolling out leadership programmes. Deciding where the responsibility of leadership development lays is one of the more significant challenges as it gets segmented between business leads and line managers.

The stumbling block in leadership development

When it comes to creating leadership strategy, the survey found that 36 percent of HR professionals believe it is the responsibility of the business lead while 32 percent believe it should be HR’s responsibility. There are similar splits in the results when it comes to who should be creating the leadership strategy and who should be identifying leadership candidates.

These findings highlight the importance of HR and line managers working together to develop cohesive and effective leadership programmes.

Here are 3 practical actions to enable collaboration in the implementation of a leadership development programme.

1. Create a cross functional group

By establishing a cross functional steering group comprising of representatives from all areas of the business, the training needed can be more easily defined based on each member of the group’s first-hand knowledge of the leaders in their function. The group can also work together to ensure that the learning content is aligned to business deliverables and decide who will provide support throughout the design, implementation and review phases of the training.

2. Define competency frameworks

Competency frameworks are the result of the real analysis of job roles and the levels required to be able to do the job. Therefore, using competency frameworks to define the content of the programme is important. If organisations are clear about the jobs that people are required to do and the precise level to which people need to perform, then it becomes much easier to identify appropriate content to address the gaps and also to measure success of the programme afterwards.

3. Leverage internal expertise in programme delivery

Many organisations will acknowledge that an external training provider is paramount in delivering the level of leadership input that is needed in truly effective leadership programmes. What they don’t necessarily realise is that the impact of the training is amplified significantly when dovetailed with the contribution of relevant internal experts. Involving people from all functions in the delivery is important and in practical terms this could mean inviting people along to deliver short presentations, to share stories and experiences or to answer Q&A’s. It could be as simple as ensuring that line managers provide structured coaching around the programme itself.

When it comes to implementing leadership development programmes, businesses should consider the tensions over where the responsibility should lay as evidenced in the research. By following these steps and creating cross functional groups, defining competency frameworks and leveraging internal expertise in programme delivery, organisations can ensure successful leadership development through stronger collaboration.