Where Are Firms Investing in Leader Development Now?

Organizations increased their investment in leadership development some 14% in 2012 over the previous year according to industry research. This marks the most significant increase in years. How are they allocating this investment?

Leaders at All Levels
More investment is being directed down the management chain. With limited investment at lower levels of leadership over the past half dozen years, many companies are recognizing a growing gap in their leadership pipeline and have begun committing or recommitting to funding developmental programs at all levels. A key area for development is at the first level of leadership: coaching skills. Strong coaching skills enable these leaders to effectively engage and develop employees while driving performance.

High Potentials
An increasing number of organizations are investing a larger portion of their leadership development budget in high potentials. These companies often develop a comprehensive architecture to connect learning and development initiatives for high potentials directly with strategic and operational business issues and opportunities. A recent study puts the average per participant spending on high potential leaders at more than four times that of the average spent per participant for first level managers. With this level of investment, it is important that leaders involved in identifying high potentials possess strong talent assessment skills in order to develop a “whole person” picture. Assessment instruments measuring personality, leadership style and potential contribute to this holistic view. With an intimate knowledge of the strengths, needs and values of candidates for high potential designation, the firm increases the likelihood it will invest in the right people.

Globally Agile Leaders
For many firms, the increase in leadership development is being driven by global expansion. Even companies who primarily operate domestically find that their supply chain, talent pool, business partners, and competitors are global today. Successfully navigating across diverse cultures often requires additional leadership competencies beyond what many firms have traditionally focused upon. Leading cross border virtual teams or leveraging entrepreneurial skills to opening a new market are but two examples. With new global competencies models developed, firms are working to design experiential learning opportunities and assignments to enable leader agility for success in a global market.