Leadership Development: How Do You Know If It Worked?

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Leadership Development: How Do You Know If It Worked?

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People always have questions, but they often aren’t asked. When it comes to leadership development, how do we know if it worked?

Leadership development appreciative strategies

Leadership Development

Leadership development might be a catch all phrase for supervisory, managerial, or leadership training. There are many competences that may be involved in leadership development and it always depends on the target audience or participants.

Some slight variances might exist from industry to industry, and variances definitely exist with level of responsibility or organization size. While the basic leadership skills for front line supervisors might have similarities to the concepts of leadership in the C-Suite the total package of competencies likely has at least a few differences.

Organizations often invest in leadership development training. Many believe it is a very wise investment, but how do we measure the success? What is the ROI (return on investment)?

Metrics and Measurements

Here are seven possible metrics or measurement criteria:

  1. Employee Turnover. Turnover ratio for any business or organization might change for many reasons. Leadership has a direct impact on the culture of the organization and turnover could be a valuable metric.
  2. Satisfaction Survey. Satisfaction surveys can help point to the success of leadership. This can be an employee satisfaction survey or it could even be a customer satisfaction survey.
  3. 360 Assessments. The 360 assessment is a valuable tool for understanding leadership competencies from the perspective of others within (or sometimes outside) of an organization. It can also be administered to entire teams for group results.
  4. Sales Revenue or Profit. Depending on the areas of focus for the leader an increase in sales revenue or gross profit might provide evidence of success in training. It also can be an easy number to measure ROI.
  5. Relationship Portfolio. How big or what is the depth of relationships? How many contracts, entities, or service agreements are active under management?
  6. Business Growth. Is the business or organization growing or if it was in decline has it stabilized, right-sized, or otherwise improved? This might be measured in numerous ways.
  7. Unique Metrics. Last on this list but certainly not the least there are many other ways to determine ROI. You might consider something as simple as a pre-test followed by a post-test. You might have metrics for quality, productivity, waste, and many others.

Knowing It Worked

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider is that you should always determine the method of evaluation in advance and understand your baseline or starting point. Evaluation can, and likely should be, measured through both metrics connected to monetary values and those that are intangible.

Also important but sometimes forgotten is that training success is contingent upon changed habits or behaviors across time. It is easy for any individual or team to show short time signs of improvement only to default back to old ways when under duress or as measured across longer periods of time.

Can the success of leadership development programs be measured and improvements maintained?

I say yes, what are your thoughts?


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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