What is a leadership development programme?

June 28, 2023

Nigel Girling

Head of Professional Qualifications

Most people in Talent, L&D, HR, or similar roles will at some point ask:  “what is a leadership development programme and why does my organization need one?” They see that a lot of competing organizations are investing in a Leadership Development Programme. In every research study they read regarding areas of need in organizations – such as the highly valued DDI Global Leadership Forecast and the Deloitte Human Capital Report – the development of leadership capability is always highlighted as one of the most significant factors affecting organizational success.

But what is the goal in having a leadership development programme? Is it only for the people at the top of the business? How can it be useful for engagement, development and retention of managers throughout the organization?

A leadership development programme is usually seen as a pivotal strategic initiative. As one of the most common learning & development focus areas, it attracts a lot of attention and typically a substantial allocation of resources. Any organization investing in one has to know that they are doing it for the right reasons, with the right objectives.

Answering the question ‘what is a leadership development programme?’ isn’t easy as it operates at many levels. However, it typically focuses on four areas in particular:

  1. Identifying & nurturing aspiring talent and developing a leadership pipeline
  2. Developing current operational and first-line manager skills
  3. Career progression
  4. Developing current and future strategic leaders

Each of these strands is significant and has some typical differences in approach, scope and programme.

For the organization, the programme at points 2 and 4 focuses on developing the capabilities that are seen as necessary to achieve the strategic objectives and goals and are likely to provide the organization with competitive and operational advantages.

Point 1 seeks to ensure that the organization has a strong supply and pipeline of talented future leaders who are likely to be retained as they see opportunities to grow and progress.

For individual leaders, all strands are significant, but point 3 may be the one that is of most significance as they seek to grow their opportunities and progress up the career ladder. Put simply, it is a key part in becoming the leader you want to be.

Clearly, investing in a leadership development programme is essential for any organization looking to grow as it is fundamental to attracting or retaining employees, developing strong leaders, improving business performance, building a strong leadership pipeline and staying ahead of the competition.

Related articles

a photo of a purpose-driven leader embracing the rest of their team

What is a Purpose-Driven Leader and Why Should You Become One?

Purpose-driven leadership aligns an organization’s mission with a higher purpose, fostering engagement, innovation, and resilience. This blog explores defining purpose, aligning values with goals, enhancing emotional intelligence, cultivating culture, and measuring impact, guiding leaders on their journey to inspire and drive meaningful change.

Image showing a double exposure of a person and an office building with the words The Future of Leadership

The Future of Leadership in 2024

Part 1: Talent Wars Attracting and retaining good people used to be fairly simple. You advertised a job, paid a reasonable wage and loads of people applied. You short-listed, interviewed and then picked the best one. Easy life. But not a life familiar to most...

Contact Us

IDG UK
IDG House Royal Berkshire Hotel London Road Ascot SL5 0PP UK
+44 (0) 207 798 2848

IDG India
301, Tower 2, Montreal Business Center Baner Road Pune 411045 India
+91 955 271 5800

IDG Middle East
5th Floor One Business Centre DMCC, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai UAE
+44 (0) 1276 686644

IDG UK
IDG House Royal Berkshire Hotel London Road Ascot SL5 0PP UK
+44 (0) 207 798 2848

IDG India
301, Tower 2, Montreal Business Center Baner Road Pune 411045 India
+91 955 271 5800

IDG Middle East
5th Floor One Business Centre DMCC, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai UAE
+44 (0) 1276 686644