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Ensuring Your Leadership Program Succeeds

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.23.04 PMAccording to The McKinsey Quarterly[1] a large percentage of leadership development programs fail because no plans are made to measure whether the participants are growing as leaders, leading to little accountability for acting on what is learned.

Some companies fail to think beyond measures of return on investment in the program, which in most cases would be a long-term goal, especially if program participants don’t yet have the right combination of experiences and responsibilities.

As we help leaders set goals, we ask them instead to think about instantaneous results, differences, or ways they can measure whether they are on target.

  • From an executive working on being more personable: “Do people use my open door policy for anything other than times when they need my okay?”
  • From someone trying to improve savvy with office politics: “Who’s telling me when I’m being an idiot?”
  • From a leader working on increasing the visibility of her team: “Does the information I’m sharing come back to me from others?”
  • From a leader trying to get his team to understand the overall vision: “Is what we’re measuring meaningful and motivating?”

These questions don’t sit on some action plan or get buried on a SMART goal sheet. Instead, we laminate them on a card too big to put in your wallet. That card sits by the laptop, on a mirror, or somewhere else where the person will see it regularly. And at each glance, the goal is to ask, “Am I seeing these things? Am I on track with my priorities?”


In other words, these are “canary in the mine” markers for leadership progress. They‘ve carefully set goals and carefully written these questions to answer, “If I’m moving in the right direction, what might I see? What might I be doing differently? What will help me know if I’m on track?” And that’s better than waiting for quarterly or yearly or five-year results to know whether the investment in leadership development is working.




Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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