Leadership training: overview

Leadership training and development courses are seen as the blue-ribbon events in the training calendar and usually the responsibility of the most senior person in the learning and development (L&D) team.

They can be expensive and may be critical to the future success of the employing organisation. This means leadership training and development requires detailed attention from whoever is responsible for it.

It is certainly important as John Castledine, director of L&D, Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), says: “Leadership training gives HR and L&D a high profile with senior leaders in an organisation.

Consequently, the risks of trying something a bit different, or switching to a lesser-known but cheaper training solution, are often too high – given the investment required in undertaking a lengthy procurement exercise.”

Developing the leadership skills of middle managers is among the top learning and development priorities for organisations in 2010, according to Henley Business School’s corporate learning priorities survey 2010, based on responses from 2,500 UK HR and L&D professionals.

People often confuse leadership with management, but as author Peter Drucker says: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”.

Phil Radcliff, director of the leadership programme at Henley Business School sums it up as: “The ability to motivate others to follow a vision where the processes and actions required are unclear and the outcome uncertain. And the ability to keep their commitment when results fail to come and methods have to change.”

Leadership development is probably a more appropriate term than leadership training as it is doubtful that managers can be trained to be leaders. Leadership is about vision, influencing and developing strategies, whereas management is about carrying out the processes that flow from such factors.

You cannot plan leadership development without having reasonable understanding of the senior team’s plans for your organisation. Strategy and vision manifest themselves in agreed goals and objectives, and leadership development must relate to these factors.

For instance, it may be that the senior team plans to change the organisation’s focus, its products, how it is structured and so on. This will feed into the content of leadership training and development.

It’s best if the senior personnel responsible for training and L&D engage with the top team to agree the content, direction and target delegates for leadership development.

The more information you have, the more able you will be to provide exactly the kind of training needed. And the better you know your senior team, the more likely you are to provide appropriate training pitched at the right level.

Leadership development won’t come cheap. Course leader and trainer rates cost, according to the ILM, anything from £300 to £2,000 a day depending on their role and expertise.

If you have a residential event at an external venue, it will add about £100 per head per night to the cost. Day rates for delegates will range from £250 a day upwards. If you choose to send a senior person on a prestigious external leadership course it will cost about £5,000 for a working week.

Cranfield’s five-day residential course ‘The Director as Leader’ which focuses very much on strategy, costs £5,350 plus VAT. Its three-day residential ‘Women as Leaders’ course costs £3,050 plus VAT.


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