There’s a pressing need for leadership development in today’s uncertain economic climate, both from a talent market and business outcomes perspective. When organizations develop their leaders from within, it has a notable positive impact on the workforce. These leaders are able to better retain top talent and increase employee satisfaction.

There are also positive impacts for the leaders themselves. For companies that invest in developing them, leaders are 1.5 times more engaged in their roles and twice as likely to vote their employer a best place to work. Implementing a strong leadership development program is also good for the bottom line. When companies increase the number of talented managers in their ranks, they double the rate of engaged employees and achieve, on average, 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

So, what makes a leadership development program successful? Here are five components to consider incorporating into your organization’s leadership development initiatives.

Make it flexible

For a busy leader, time is a valuable resource. The traditional approach of week-long leadership development seminars is no longer practical. Programs that offer asynchronous learning and self-paced micro-learning modules are easier to fit into busy schedules. And leaders are much more likely to retain and apply what they’ve learned when the learning is broken into smaller chunks and done at their own pace.

Take advantage of peer learning and collaboration with a cohort-based approach

When leaders learn together, they benefit from the collective knowledge of their peer group. Learning as a cohort speeds up cultural adoption of positive change by:

Encourage the shift to a leadership mindset

Only when a leader changes their behavior as a result of what they’ve learned does leadership development benefit the business. The cohort setting mentioned above is an effective way to emphasize behavior change and develop a growth mindset. When learning with other leaders, leaders reinforce new behaviors among themselves and are more accountable for bringing these new ways of working into their jobs.

Connect learning to the real world

Many traditional development programs fail because they don’t connect back to real world issues. In order for leadership development to be successful, it needs to connect to real problems leaders are facing. For example, a business may need leaders to guide employees through an upcoming change. This is an initiative that participants in a leadership development program can align on. Make a plan to take the learning back into the organization.

Measure the results

To truly measure the results of your learning programs, McKinsey suggests assessing changes in leaders’ performance and behavior. It’s important to set targets and assess performance over time. Leaders can learn from successes and failures even after the training, and make the necessary adjustments. Partner with a learning solutions provider that provides insights and analytics to help measure success.

Companies that make it a priority to invest in their leaders achieve significant benefits, including a more engaged workforce, improved employee retention, business continuity, and increased innovation. Working with the right learning solutions partner is incredibly important for a leadership development program to be successful.

Download the ebook Leadership Development as a Strategic Advantage to discover more best practices for effective leadership development programs.