5 critical mistakes to avoid when implementing leadership development

5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing Leadership Development Programs

“Are leaders born, or can they be made?” This age-old question has been at the heart of countless debates on the nature of leadership. While the verdict remains elusive, there’s one undeniable truth—leadership is a journey, not a destination. In a world where organizations are under constant transformation and new challenges emerge with each dawn, the need for effective leadership has never been more pressing. The success of an organization hinges on its leaders’ ability to navigate uncharted waters and inspire those they lead.

It’s a demand that has given birth to leadership development programs, a dynamic force in the realm of human resources and executive leadership. These programs have evolved over the years, embracing new methodologies, philosophies, and strategies, transcending the one-size-fits-all approach to become dynamic, customized journeys for aspiring leaders. As we dive into an era of constant change, the evolution of leadership development programs is not just a matter of interest; it’s a strategic imperative.

In this article, we delve into the insights of HR leaders and executives who have experienced the nuances of leadership development firsthand and learn from them the 5 critical mistakes to avoid when implementing these programs and the path ahead in nurturing the leaders of tomorrow.

Lacking Adequate Time Commitment and Support

Highlighting the challenge of inadequate time from participants to get the most out of such programs, James Simers, Organizational Development Manager at RKL LLP explains, “It is critical that the commitment to the program is not just from the leader participating, but also from those who supervise this leader. This ensures that leaders can invest the time during the program and afterward to reflect and implement learned strategies.”


James Simers

Reinforcing the importance of getting buy-in on content as well as giving these leaders space for implementing new ideas and strategies while attending such programs, he continues, “It is also critical that the leaders surrounding this person commit to supporting the leader as they implement new things to improve effectiveness. They should also be open to learning and adjusting things themselves to build organizational effectiveness.”


Dr Raman K. Attri

Endorsing a Single Leadership Style

Dr Raman K. Attri, Coach to Chief Learning Officers at GetThereFaster™, highlights the importance of avoiding a single leadership style and says, “Most in-house leadership development programs tend to endorse a preferred leadership style. Several leadership programs invest a lot of time in helping leaders find or label their leadership styles. However, such assessment does not make them any better leaders than before.”

He adds, “Often, it creates performance anxiety for new leaders by giving them the impression that being a leader is an elite status that would require a specific set of styles to be successful. They are given a long list of do’s and don’ts of idealist leadership style. While struggling to identify with this taught leadership style, new leaders become so uptight in dealing with teams that they impair connection, bonding, and trust with the teams.”

He endorses the fact that leadership development programs should help leaders discover how they handle situations at home, with family members, friends, and in other personal settings and accordingly design interventions to encourage and nurture their natural style, leading to a much shorter leadership development time.

Proceeding Without a Clear Vision

Luciano Colos, Founder and CEO at PitchGrade provides insight about the significance of having a clear vision, “Without a clear vision, it will be difficult to measure the success of the program and determine if it is achieving its goals. In addition, it will be difficult to motivate employees to participate in the program if they do not understand the purpose of the program and how it will benefit them.”

Luciano Colos

He suggests asking two questions while implementing any leadership development program to increase its effectiveness, “What are the specific leadership skills and behaviors that I want to develop in my employees?” and “What are the key challenges that my organization is facing, and how can leadership development help us to overcome those challenges?”


Michael Alexis

Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Michael Alexis, CEO of Virtual Team Building, advises organizations to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and says, “If HR leaders focus solely on traditional teaching models, such as lectures and workshops, they risk leaving out more creative solutions for developing their existing employees.”

He adds, “For example, assigning an incumbent leader to shadow a mentor in another organization could provide an immersive learning experience while offering fresh perspectives from outside the organization. This tactic offers new insights into industry practices and organizational design that can ultimately help current leaders enhance their skill sets and competencies.”

Overlooking Impact Measurement

Highlighting the significance of measuring the impact of leadership development programs, Gargee Davda, Principal Associate at NamanHR, underscores, “The absence of clearly defined objectives or the lack of impact measurement prevents us from gauging the program’s trajectory and its alignment with desired outcomes.”

She further advocates, “Leadership development initiatives must articulate specific objectives during the design phase, closely tied to measurable criteria, and consistently tracked throughout the program’s execution.”


Gargee Davda

Navigating the Future of Leadership Development

Leadership development is not just about a single style or approach; it’s about celebrating the unique qualities of individuals and guiding them to become the best versions of themselves. It’s about time commitment, support, clear vision, and tailored approaches that nurture the inherent leadership potential in each individual. As organizations strive to develop leaders who can navigate an ever-changing world, the evolution of leadership development programs takes center stage. The future belongs to those who embrace diversity, customization, and a clear vision of what leadership means for their unique context.

NamanHR is ready to assist you in crafting a leadership development program that aligns with your organizational vision and goals. Contact us today to explore how we can collaborate to ensure your organization’s leadership development journey is on the right course.

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