For many years, spending on leadership training has been on the rise, as businesses increasingly realize the importance of succession planning. In fact, recent research published by the Top Employers Institute found that leadership development is now the top priority for HR professionals in the UK, overtaking employee engagement.

The Top Employers Institute survey found that 87 percent of companies have a leadership strategy in place. But a separate study conducted by Ashridge Business School found that just 7 percent of senior managers believe their business develops global leaders effectively. One of the most common problems is a lack of personalization.

Customized Development

When working with partners to create a leadership development program, the main thing senior managers want to know is that the development plan will be customized. One aspect of this customization involves making sure any management skills training relates to the company and its operations, rather than being more generalized.

However, equally important is the need for the development scheme to be personalized. Essentially, this means that every member of staff being put forward for leadership development should be treated like an individual, instead of the business adopting a more simplistic, ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Why Personalization Is Needed

Employees earmarked for corporate leadership will often need to undergo behavioral transformations in order to become effective leaders. Of course, the specific behaviors that need to change will vary from one person to another, depending on their mindset and motivations, which is one of the key arguments for personalisation.

“Identifying some of the deepest, ‘below the surface’ thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioral change,” Pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen and Kevin Lane explain in an article for McKinsey. This requires HR professionals to get to know each leadership candidate as an individual.

For example, delegation may be a key part of leadership within your organization, but some leadership candidates will have a controlling mindset, which may manifest through micromanagement and an inability to relinquish control. This cannot be corrected, however, until it has actually been identified in the first place.

How to Achieve Personalisation

In terms of actually implementing a development plan that incorporates personalisation, HR professionals or business leaders should sit down with leadership prospects and discuss their strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and motivations. You need to know your leadership candidate before you can tailor your plan to suit them.

Where possible, new information learned through conventional training should be reinforced through coaching. Your coaches can then attempt to connect the learned information to the personal experiences of the candidate.

Moreover, throughout the development process, prospects should have regular meetings with business leaders. During these meetings, candidates and senior managers should try to agree on clear, measurable and achievable aims, and these should be specific to each candidate, based on their performance and personality traits.

How Can Corporate Leadership Development Be Personalized?

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Monika Götzmann
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specialises in providing exceptional sales training courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership development training.