Action learning, 360-degree feedback and coaching and mentoring have been cited as the most effective methods of leadership development, according to a survey by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review.
The IRS Leadership Development Survey of 84 organisations – covering a combined workforce of 476,000 people – shows that e-learning, while cited by two organisations as the most effective, is regarded as the least effective method by more than one-quarter (23) of the organisations polled. Other methods that failed to make the grade included external conferences (cited by nine organisations), classroom-based learning (six), and interactive/drama-based learning (six).
Development reviews and appraisals are the most common leadership development tool (used by 57 organisations). Classroom-style learning is also very common (54), as is coaching by internal staff (49), and 360-degree feedback (45).
HR professionals came across various difficulties when attempting to implement leadership development programmes, however. Some of the key challenges they came up against included getting support and buy-in from senior staff understanding the organisation’s leadership needs, and creating real change through training. The survey also found that senior leaders often failed to realise the importance of their own careers.
Among the 74 organisations that did run leadership development programmes, there were varying degrees of success. Thirteen said their programmes were a failure, and 22 said they had not achieved a return on investment. However, six believed their programmes had been a great success, while more than half thought they had been fairly successful.
The survey found that employers spend an average of 20% of their learning and development budgets on leadership development, and invest more time in this type of training than to general learning and development activities.
Among the 10 organisations surveyed that did not provide leadership training for staff, four said this was down to lack buy-in from senior management, while five said funding was not allocated for this task. However, six said they planned to introduce leadership development training in the future.