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What is Leadership Development & Why Should You Care?

How leadership training unlocks leadership potential on your whole team


Work has undergone a seismic shift. It’s opened up opportunities, but to succeed requires stretching the capability of everyone on the team. More leadership qualities are needed at all levels, and this is where leadership development comes in.

A global study found organisations with an inclusive approach to leadership training were 4.2 times more likely to financially outperform those that kept leadership development just for managers. (1) 

Leadership development is good for staff engagement and retention. Studies show high-performing managers are 4 times more likely to retain employees than low-performing managers. (2)

So, let’s look at the fundamentals of leadership development, and how a leadership development plan can benefit your business.  

Free Download: 10 Leadership Qualities That Will Help Solve Challenges in 2022

What is Leadership Development? 

Just as a sports academy unlocks the full potential of its athletes to create champions, a leadership development program unlocks leadership potential in your team.

Let’s face it, business structures are flatter and less hierarchical than ever, so leadership skills add value not just in current leaders, but in high potentials, employees from diverse and/or minority groups, new hires, and everyone in between.    

While leadership development programs differ, quality training will cover personal and professional development, both in soft skills (emotional intelligence, teamwork, trust, communication, creativity etc.) and hard skills (digital competency, strategic planning, change management, data analytics etc.)  

Why Should You Implement a Leadership Development Plan?  

A Gartner survey on HR trends and priorities for 2022 revealed 68% of HR leaders chose:

·       “Building critical skills and competencies” as their number one priority.

·       “Current and future leadership bench” their number 3 priority, just behind change management. (3)

Implementing a leadership development plan does both these things PLUS it retains your high potentials. 41% of respondents to a recent survey said learning opportunities are what keep them engaged at work. (4)

A leadership development plan says to your people:

·      We value you,

·      We will help you improve your skills,

·      We care about your career development.

All 3 factors are shown to be essential for employee retention. (5) 

How can I develop more leaders in my business (yesterday!)?

A leadership training program is a fast and efficient way to develop more leaders with skills for growing and sustaining your business. To get started quickly, our Leadership Pass gives members access to “Good to Great” author Jim Collins in his August 2022 live virtual event Develop Level 5 Leaders where he’ll explain in depth how to increase the number of Level 5 leaders in your organisation.

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” – Jim Collins (For more great quotes from Jim Collins read our Best Leadership Quotes From Jim Collins – Roadmap To Greatness.)

You can get access to the world’s brilliant minds in leadership development with our Leadership Passes. Click below for details. 

There are so many compelling reasons to implement a leadership development program: 

Improves Your Bottom Line  

Every organisation wants an ROI on expenses. Training your current and emerging leaders in core leadership skills will improve results and drive down costs. Studies show well-managed work groups are 50% more productive and 44% more profitable. (6) 

Research analysis clearly shows “firms profit from training” and there is a proven connection between training investment and changes in productivity, profitability, and stock market performance. (7)

Plus, companies that invest in human capital have been shown to deliver stock market returns 5 times higher than those investing less in their people. (8) 

Attracts & Retains Talent

People only want to work for good leaders, and future leaders only want to work where they get leadership skills training.

 A 2021 IBM survey shows 51% of employees most value work-life balance, but also highly value “career advancement opportunities” (43%) and “continuous learning opportunities” (35%). (9)

Leadership development is a perk that benefits both the employee (engagement and potential for higher wages) and employer (higher retention of engaged, more productive employees).

As researchers note, training offers “a strong incentive to stay with an employer that continuously upgrades the human capital instead of risking the possibility of ending up with a new employer with an ‘unknown’ human capital investment strategy.” (10)

Drives Strategy Execution

Academic Michael Porter once said, ‘The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do’. Leadership training teaches leaders to make better strategic decisions.

Being strategic is not a once in a 5-year event, says Stephen Scott, author of “The 15 Disciplines: The Essential Checklist for Productive Leaders.” 

“It is a continuous process of scanning the horizon to recognise the changes in your environment and understand how they affect your vision and mission.”

Leaders equipped with the latest thinking, tools, and frameworks are better able to provide value for customers into the future.

Increases the Ability to Navigate Change

“The captain of a ship who is used to operating in calm seas is often unprepared for a cyclone.” – Matthew Tice

Today’s leaders must learn to operate in an environment of high uncertainty and risk, says Insurgence author Matthew Tice. It requires them to “solve one problem after another in rapid succession,” he says.

Leaders continually need a different set of skills, as the speed and impact of the changes ahead of them cannot be known.

A quality leadership development plan helps your leadership team learn at the same rate that change is occurring. As problems emerge, team members are ‘active learning’ and applying the tools and frameworks taught to them by leadership coaches.  

Bridges the Skill Gap 

Only 28% of leaders get training in areas known to be leadership skills gaps of the future. These include building talent, managing change, digital acumen, strategic thinking, and influencing. (11)

Leadership development bridges the gap between current capabilities of team members and skills needed to lead teams into the future. It’s a worthwhile investment.   


You Build a Highly Impactful Team 

Leadership development can stretch your A-players. New York Times bestselling author Liz Wiseman (pictured below) encourages leaders to find the ‘impact players’ already on their teams and develop them.  

Ahead of her October event Increase Your Influence, Leadership, and Impact at Work, Liz explains that top talent prefers equal doses of safety and stretch.

·       Safety: A psychologically safe culture where employees can report mistakes and share ideas.

·       Stretch: An energising, intense environment that demand’s people’s best efforts.

In our blog Liz Wiseman’s Impact Players: The Employees Adding 3x To 10x The Value she explains how to multiply the impact player effect by making the workplace comfortable but intense

Liz Wiseman

6 Key Teachable Skills Every Leadership Program Needs

Most leadership skills are teachable, and if you have a Leadership Pass you would find these critical topics in our program, taught by the best thought leaders in the world.


“A coach is someone who can see the things you can’t see, hear the things you don’t want to hear, and help you become the person you always wanted to be.” - sports coach Tom Landry

Coaching is a teachable skill that should be offered in every leadership training program. Coaching expert and author of “The Coaching Habit” Michael Bungay Stanier told Growth Faculty coaching should be a daily, informal act, taking 10 minutes or less. He says it is a simple behavioural change of “giving a little less advice and asking a few more questions.”

Our Leadership Pass has given leaders access to high-level events on coaching. Read more at Great Ideas From The Coaching Habit By Michael Bungay Stanier and Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle


Not many people like having hard conversations. But leaders must learn to create an environment of accountability within teams. Our Global Headliner speaker Patrick Lencioni, author of ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ says on a really good team up to 99% of the accountability is peer to peer.

However, they need leadership development training to learn how to do it.

“When it comes to turning to someone on their team and holding them accountable for their behaviours or their performance, most people don’t like to do it,” he told us in interview. 

Our Leadership Pass has given leaders access to world-class events on accountability. Read more at How execution reduces burnout and Practical tips for productivity and accountability.

Managing Change 

Being a great leader is having the ability to adapt to a changing environment, such as the one we’ve all just been through. Change management skills such as adaptability, innovation, communication, and strategic thinking come from experience and intensive learning and leadership development.

A key question leaders should ask is ‘How do we build the future while managing the present?’ according to Alex Osterwalder, inventor of The Business Model Canvas. Alex led a leadership development masterclass for Growth Faculty Leadership Pass holders, summarised here: How Entrepreneurs Win With Business Model Innovation

Other events on change have included Mark Boncheck: Transforming the company using new mental models and Charlene Li’s masterclass summarised in How to be like ‘Adobe’ and love your future customers.

Employee wellbeing and creating a safe workplace

“44% of employees said they experienced stress during a lot of the previous day.” – Gallup 2021 survey

Wellness is a new focus for leaders. As Gallup’s survey shows, the emotional side of work requires more attention than before. Takako Hirato, author of ‘The Virtual Leader’, said in our book club interview that leaders must work hard to identify when team members are struggling.

“Make a culture where employees feel they can be honest,” she says.

This requires emotional intelligence (EQ), a vital and teachable skill for leaders. Leadership development programs will teach skills in EQ, psychological safety, and diversity and inclusion. Not only is there a legal obligation to do so, creating a safe workplace goes hand in hand with employee engagement. 


Leaders cannot over-communicate.

As researcher Jim Collins says in his bestseller ‘Beyond Entrepreneurship BE 2.0’ this: “Don’t worry about how to communicate where the company is headed, just say it. And say it a lot. Speak it. Write it. Draw it. Say it again.”

Communication skills are among the 10 qualities all successful leaders have in common. Leadership development programs can teach leaders better skills in giving and taking feedback, negotiating, having hard conversations, listening, running virtual meetings, and over-communicating their vision.

Active learning/Immersive Learning

Korn Ferry’s Future of Work Trends in 2022 report says leaders should stop thinking about work in terms of jobs and start thinking in terms of capabilities instead. Learning is a leadership skill that makes everyone more capable. Great leaders find ways to slip active learning into their corporate strategy.

·       They encourage immersive learning. They see mistakes as learning moments.

·       They ensure professional leadership training suits individual learning styles i.e. visual, audio etc.

·       They run social learning meetings to encourage discussion.

·       They have a growth mindset and are a role model for learning.

Want to Learn More About Leadership Development? 

The future requires we all upskill. Leadership development is proven to lift results. As the Future of Work Trends in 2022 report says, now we must shift from executive leadership to “enterprise leadership”. (12)

Offering the right leadership program to everyone in the organisation will lift the bottom line, attract and retain talent, and build a pipeline of effective leaders at all levels to help you navigate disruptive change.  

With the Growth Faculty Leadership Pass your executives and teams get access to the best leadership coaches and thought leaders in the world.

The annual pass gives you unlimited access to more than 40 live and interactive virtual events, including four Global Headliners, weekly masterclasses, regular book club events and an On Demand leadership library - all for an exceptionally great value price.

Speakers have included Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Patrick Lencioni, Julia Gillard, Laura Liswood, Jim Collins, Michael Dell, Sir Richard Branson, Professor Amy Edmonson, Liz Wiseman, Laura Huang, Dan Pink, Kemi Nekpavil, James Clear and many more. See who’s up next.



1.       2018 Global Leadership Forecast prepared by The Conference Board and Development Dimensions International.

2.       2022 Leadership Development Survey, Training magazine and Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc.

3.       Top 5 HR Trends and Priorities for 2022, Gartner

4.       A.Mosher, 2022, “Employees are craving leadership development training more than ever. Try this simple way to deliver”, Fast Company

5.       Benefits of Leadership Development Training for Organizations, Wharton Online.

6.       Gallup survey cited in Very Real Costs Of Not Training Your Leaders, 2014, LinkedIn

7.       B.Hansson, U.Johnson, K-H Leitner, 2004, The impact of human capital and human capital investments on company performance. Evidence from literature and European survey results

8.       Harvard Business Review and McBassi & Co.

9.       Research brief: Government transformation in tumultuous times, 2021, IBM Institute for Business Value & IBM Center for The Business of Government.

10.    B.Hansson, U.Johnson, K-H Leitner, 2004, The impact of human capital and human capital investments on company performance. Evidence from literature and European survey results

11.    S.Neal, 2021, What a Leadership Skills Gap Analysis of 15,000 Leaders Reveals About the Future, DDI Global Leadership Forecast 2021

12.    Future of Work Trends in 2022, Korn Ferry insights 


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