Creating Buy-In for Leadership Development

Posted by Dr. Holly Latty-Mann on

Some people are insulted when the opportunity for leadership development is presented. “They must think something is wrong with me” is a typical reaction, especially for those who have a strong need to be right.

Whether the issue with an employee is one of grooming for greater managerial responsibilities vs intervention (e.g., great technical skills but lousy with people skills), creating buy-in for further development can be a challenge.

Here’s how to present successfully their opportunity for leadership development, regardless of the motivation behind sending them to a professional development program:  “Because I recognize you as high potential beyond your current job role and performance, I have a program I want you to attend that is designed for very bright, high-functioning people.” A follow-up statement of support can look like this:  “After all, great leaders are not made; they are developed.”

The point is this. Too often some people see leadership development programs as “charm school for the bad boys and girls” of the corporate world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Programs designed to change from the inside out are rigorous, intensive, and immersive – they also must feel safe where everyone’s dignity is honored.

Likewise, the motivation for sending someone should also feel safe. Never threaten with messages that his or her job is contingent upon successful completion of the program, even if this may be the case.

The most successful companies that espouse leadership development are those that send their top leadership members first. Not only is there the ripple effect that supports the change in others, but when others are presented with the same opportunity, they feel supported rather than criticized.