What do Donald Trump, Gandhi, Sir Winston Churchill and Charles Manson have in common?

For better or for worse…they are (or were) leaders. Each one left a lasting mark on those who followed him. And that should give you, as a leader in your own organization, pause: what kind of mark do you want to leave on those who follow you? A passion for peaceful protest and world peace? Or a burning desire to see you rot in prison?

An organization’s leader can make or break a company. Leadership, in its simplest form, comes down to influence and impact. That’s why a manager, who looks after the day to day, is not always also a leader.

A good leader inspires others. As Ronald Regan famously said “the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one who gets people to do the greatest things.” Great things are good for business.

Why else should you invest in developing good leaders?

Leaders make money. Studies by Harvard Business Review and McBassi & Co. show that companies that invest in leadership development deliver stock returns five times higher than the returns of companies that don’t. Good leaders reduce costs, drive new revenue streams and improve customer satisfaction.

Employees want to stick around . Good leaders attract and retain loyal employees. And that reduces employee turnover as well as costs associated with a high turnover.

Transforming your staff into leaders is good for company culture. When you invest in developing leadership within, it sends a message to your staff that you care about them and their future. It’s good for the morale of staff and positions you as an employer people want to work for.

You’ll be better able to navigate rough waters. Leadership development equips your staff to be agile yet solid during critical times. Strong leadership is an important foundation when you’re facing drastic change, accidents, layoffs, restructuring or economic downturns.

What kind of leadership development is right for your business? First, it’s important to clarify that leadership development is not the same as leadership training. Says Fortune 500 leadership advisor and author Mike Myatt, “Training focuses on best practices, while development focuses on next practices.” Training standardizes practices, thereby serving the status quo. Development, on the other hand, encourages a more forward-looking approach. It capitalizes on experience, knowledge and wisdom to develop a goal-based and purposeful leadership.

Here are some things to consider when planning leadership development for your organization:

  • Start at the end. Your leadership development plan should achieve your end goals. That means revisiting your company’s vision and making sure any new program aligns with your values. What do you believe in? What does your business stand for? What kind of leader will get you to your destination?
  • Make sure it’s relevant to your business . No matter the route you’re taking – sending employees to paid leadership programs or instituting your own development plans, leadership development must match your vison and your goals if it’s going to add value.
  • It should roll downhill. Again, great leaders inspire. They set an excellent example that flows throughout the company, setting company culture, attitude, values, standards and ethics. An effective leadership development program helps shape and inspire the leader, then shows how to be an inspiration and a model for the traits that will lead your company to success: cooperation, fairness, trust, openness and solutions.

No denying it: companies benefit from developing good leaders. How you develop those leaders depends on your company, your philosophy and your expendable cash. In a future blog, I’ll share reviews of formal leadership development programs (think Dale Carnegie) and the pros and cons of spending a fair chunk of change to send employees to one of these courses.





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