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Leadership Development Challenges: And How To Overcome Them

Published on 26 December 19

More money is spent on leadership development than any other area of corporate learning. Yet, 71% of companies feel their leaders are unable to drive the performance expected out of them.

Clearly, there is a gap between the kind of training organisations are able to provide and the kind of training that is needed to develop effective leaders.

So what are these challenges? And can organisations overcome them without blowing their training budgets? Can organisations overcome them at all?

Leadership development training, unlike other skill-set training programs, is a bit more complicated. It cannot be effectively delivered by simply uploading course materials to a learning management system (LMS).

Let’s look at the unique challenges of leadership development training and how organisations can overcome these challenges.

Answering The Why

According to research, 50% of the American workforce is not engaged at work. While training is a proven engagement tactic, it will have little effect on the enthusiasm of learners if they don’t know how it will benefit them.

Sure, employees in your leadership training programs understand that they are being prepared for leadership roles. However, do they understand the real-life applications of the skills they learn during their training?

Unless learners fully understand the real-life applications of their training, they may find it irrelevant and “boring”.

To overcome this obstacle, make sure learners that are being prepared for leadership roles are given plenty of time to practice their newfound skills and apply their recently-acquired knowledge. Moreover, it is important for organisations to ensure their learners are practising the right skills. After all, they will be using these skills as team leaders and managers in the future.

This way, learners will understand exactly where the training is taking them. If they understand the benefits of the same, they will probably be more interested in participating in the training.

The Lack Of Human Touch

Thanks to the rise of eLearning technologies, delivering corporate training is now cheaper than ever before. While pure eLearning methods may prove effective for certain skills, they fall short when it comes to leadership training.

The reason? Leaders interact with real people, solve real-world problems, and manage teams of real human beings. The skills required for those tasks cannot be taught through a computer screen.

This doesn’t mean organisations should completely abandon eLearning for leadership development. Instead, it is important to understand the aspects of leadership training that are best taught with real-world training methods such as group discussions and coaching sessions.

Then, let your eLearning infrastructure take care of the rest, while also providing refresher modules of the real-world or instructor-led training sessions.

Bottom line, a blended learning approach is fast becoming a necessity for effective leadership development training.

The Lack Of Personalisation

Another change that eLearning has brought to the corporate training landscape is the freedom that learners enjoy when it comes to choosing their own learning paths. In many scenarios, learners are free to browse through a library of courses or lessons and find the ones that interest them the most.

This way, they can create a learning path that is laden with modules and lessons that align with their interests and their individual goals and complete the training on their terms.

As effective as it may be for other roles, this approach does not work well in the case of leadership development training.

Effective leadership training needs to be personalised. The training needs to be aligned with the learners’ capabilities and the organisations’ goals. The best way to do it, apart from personalised coaching sessions, is with customised course content.

While it is absolutely possible to develop this content in-house, the task may prove to be expensive in terms of time and resources.

Content providers for leadership development offer a great solution to this problem. Top content providers understand the unique challenges of leadership development, and will happily offer custom content for a fraction of the cost of developing it.

The best part is, it is not difficult to find trustworthy content providers. With specialised eLearning Content Providers PPC platforms, it is easy to compare and even try different content providers before coming to a decision.

Tracking ROI

Unlike other departments of an organisation, the results of learning and development departments are rarely supported by numbers. After all, how can you measure the skills acquired by a learner with numbers?

This makes tracking the ROI of leadership development a significant challenge.

The best way to overcome this challenge is for organisations to understand that the benefits of leadership development are almost always long-term. This means, the subjects of the training need to be observed for a couple of years to see how (and if) the training has helped improve their career trajectory.

This doesn’t just mean tracking whether they got a promotion after the program. Making sure they stay at your organisation after the training (and more than an average employee) is another great metric to track. Similarly, another great metric to track is the time and cost required to fill vacant managerial positions.


Unlike other forms of corporate training, almost every aspect of leadership development is unique and required some level of customisation. However, when done right, leadership development training can provide organisations with effective leaders that propel the growth of the organisation in the right direction.

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