Leadership Training is an Investment!

Dr. Wilma Slenders, PCC

This is what I’ve often heard from leaders: “Leadership training redirects time away from work, is expensive, and we’re not sure how beneficial it is for the employee or the company.”

Why this attitude?

Leaders themselves may not have training themselves or had poor experiences, which has coloured their views on training and development (T&D). Leaders may expect that their people have the skills and ability to do the job already. Or, they haven’t seen tangible evidence that T&D activities have paid off.

Training and developing people IS an investment, both in the employee and the company. It helps your people become more productive by being better equipped to handle challenges, keeps them engaged, positions them up for higher-level roles in the company, supports positive corporate culture, and reduces turnover.

Turnover should be of concern to every company. Every day we read that people are leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers. Is that happening in your company, too?

Costs for replacing employees are staggering.

  • An entry-level employee turnover cost is between 30% and 50% of their annual salary to replace.
  • A mid-level employee turnover costs 150% and above their annual salary to replace.
  • A high-level or highly specialized employee costs approximately 400% of their annual salary to replace.

         Source: https://www.simplybenefits.ca/blog/employee-retention-what-is-the-true-cost-of-losing-an-employee

That’s a lot of money! Not to mention the time, energy, and lost productivity associated with recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees.

To make matters even worse, a global talent shortage has made it increasingly difficult and expensive to attract people.

So, if that’s the case, why not develop people that you already have?

What are people looking for in organizations?

This survey conducted by PwC asked Millennials, "Which of the following characteristics make an organization compelling to work for?"

It’s clear that employees seek opportunities to enhance their skills, and opportunities to progress in their career.

Your people are already familiar with your company culture, know what’s expected, and have proven their loyalty. Why not prepare them for higher-level leadership?

What are the benefits of leadership training?

1. Increased productivity

Effective leaders lead by example, provide direction to staff, and ensure they are performing at or above expectations. Individual and corporate performance is enhanced as employees strive to perfect skills acquired through T&D activities.

2. Increased employee engagement and reduced staff turnover

Leaders who see a role in your company’s future tend to step up, and they have a tremendous influence on the employee experience. A common saying is: ‘people don’t leave companies; they leave their boss.’ Good leadership makes a difference!

3. Nurturing future leaders

Many of your future senior leaders should come from your current group of leaders. Being strategic about identifying high-potential individuals, providing them with the skills they need, and encouraging their growth and development will help your company retain talent and organizational knowledge.

4. Improving corporate culture

Investment in leadership development lets your people know that you care about them and inspires them to excel. Activities that include mentoring and coaching can boost employee morale and transform your company from a workplace to a great place to work.

5. Effectively leading and managing change

Constant change is the new norm. Leaders need to be able to personally navigate change and lead others in doing so, too. During critical times, such as drastic change, workforce reductions, corporate restructuring, political upheaval, and new competition, effective leadership makes the difference between success and failure.

6. Building strong teams

Leadership training benefits the team as much as the leader. A leader with clarity, direction, and effectiveness models behaviour to those they are leading.

7. Enabling better decision-making

Leadership training can result in better decision-making. How? Leaders functioning at a high level have the perspective to make informed, intelligent business decisions.

T&D activities don’t have to be expensive

A common misconception is that leadership training is expensive. There are many ways to develop your people that won’t break the bank.

  1. Mentoring programs that match more experienced people with newer people. Ideally, both people will teach each other new skills.
  2. Job shadowing with one person working with another for a defined period. Knowledge transfer, and greater understanding, are the desired outcomes.
  3. Leadership coaching by the manager, HR, or external coach can help individuals deal with challenges on a just-in-time basis.
  4. Lunch and learn sessions where people from different areas make presentations and share their knowledge and expertise with others
  5. Online or in-person training on specific subjects.
  6. Conference attendance by one or two team members with the expectation that they bring back knowledge to share with the team

Other, more expensive options include:

  1. Advanced focused leadership training at a university or college.
  2. The company supporting an MBA or other advanced program.

For the latter two, the expectations are typically that the employee stays with the organization for two years after the completion of the program.

How do you, and your company, view leadership training? Have you made it a priority?

Ask yourself:

  1. Does your company have a training and development strategy?
  2. Do you have training and development plans for ALL your employees with an associated budget?
  3. How many of your employees have used their training and development budget this past year? What is the trend? You’ll be surprised at how many people haven’t used their budgets!
  4. Do you encourage employees to use their T&D budgets?
  5. How do your performance appraisal processes align with T&D plans? They should support each other.
  6. Do you have career paths so that your people can see how they might progress with your organization vs. another one?

What’s your takeaway from reading this post? What action will you take to ensure that your people grow and process in your organization?


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Olympia Trust Company, Olympia Financial Group Inc., or any of its affiliates. The author’s views and opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither Olympia Trust Company, Olympia Financial Group Inc. nor any of its affiliates, warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

Dr. Wilma Slenders, PCC
Founder and Owner, Transcend Management Advisors Inc.

Dr. Wilma Slenders, PCC, is the founder and owner of Transcend Management Advisors Inc., a 25-year-old management consulting firm based in Calgary, Alberta. She studied management and leadership at advanced levels and conducted research on CEOs and their trusted advisor relationships. She excels at strategic consulting, leadership development, and executive coaching. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities, photography, and is currently working on her first book on women’s visibility in the workplace. Dr. Wilma may be contacted at wilma@transcendmgt.com, text/call 403.669.7926 or on LinkedIn.