How to evaluate leadership development programs

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Corporate learning organizations are under constant pressure to prove their return on investment. As the 1990s hype around the learning organization has faded, the question of how to measure the effects of investments into developmental activities has become, and continues to be, paramount.

Often the issue is reduced to measuring training effectiveness, using the so-called Kirkpatrick model or similar schemes. Effective developmental approaches, however, should go beyond formal trainings and workshops, and integrate learning with actual work experience.  

Assessments must be designed to capture such activities. As part of our Leadership Development Kit, we have developed a tool detailing six quantitative and qualitative evaluation approaches towards Leadership Development initiatives:

  1. Program charting: Track the activities, experiences and practical learnings facilitated by your leadership development initiative

  2. Leader stories: Evaluate leadership development based on (individual) leader stories

  3. Business performance: Set your leadership development work in the context of general business performance

  4. Key milestones: Relate leadership development activities to the outcomes of key strategic initiatives and projects

  5. Skill and behavior assessment: Measure the effectiveness of leadership development in terms of quantified skill and competency development

  6. Employee surveys: Leverage existing employee surveys to show effects of leadership development with those being led

Not every effort in leadership development will require utilization of each approach. However, the dimensions and the examples given provide a check-list to design a customized evaluation and facilitate stakeholder’s sensemaking on how success would look like for leadership development efforts.

Test a free preview of the Leadership Development Kit and download the Leadership Development Canvas below: