The impact of leadership development programmes

Measuring the impact of leadership development programmes is not an exact science but there is a range of metrics you can use to assess how far your objectives have been met.

Any leadership development programme needs to deliver tangible results. What these results are and how they are measured will differ from company to company. They will reflect the particular goals of a business, how it hopes to develop and evolve and the current challenges that it faces.

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A successful leadership development programme begins with the choice of programme, tutors, and coaches, as well as the material and development models being used. Leadership development programmes should be developed or selected with the goals of your particular business in mind.

This means that companies need to take time to consider their specific needs, their own strengths and weaknesses at both an organisational and individual level, and how they hope to improve.

Whether an organisation is hoping that leadership development will facilitate a transformative change to the way people work, or that it could be a catalyst for broader organisational change will be a key factor in the decision making process.

How leadership development programs can impact your organisation

The success or otherwise of a leadership development programme will usually depend on a range of different factors. Firstly, organisations that know what they want to achieve through a leadership development programme are more likely to achieve their goals. Vague, and ill-defined goals can result in the programme lacking focus or failing to concentrate on the particular areas that need improvement.

The experience and quality of the tutors, mentors, coaches and program leaders will have a critical impact on the success of any leadership development programme. They should have a proven track record of delivering results, working with companies within your sector and who have wanted to achieve similar outcomes. Programme leaders and coaches who are a poor fit for your organisation or the personalities of the individuals taking the programme are less likely to deliver results.

The programme itself should be tailored to the precise needs of your company. Generic or off-the-shelf programmes are unlikely to fully meet the leadership development needs of your organisation. Working with a training provider who gets to know your company, its needs and the requirements of the individuals taking part before proposing a certain programme is one of the best ways to ensure that you see a return on your investment.

The coaching or training model used can also have an impact on the effectiveness of your leadership development programme. When the model is chosen to align with the goals, values and culture of the organisation, it’s more likely to be effective.

When companies report little return on their investment in a leadership development programme it will usually be for a number of different reasons, often rooted in a failure to ensure that the programme matches their needs.

How to measure the impact of a leadership development programme

There are a number of ways in which the impact of a leadership development programme can be measured. Using four key metrics you can gain valuable insight into the effectiveness of your programme:


Firstly, what is the reaction of the people who undertook the programme? Are they inspired and motivated to achieve their goals and did they feel that it helped them gain new insights into their own performance and how they might improve? This might be assessed by providing a questionnaire or similar to help them record their reactions.

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Learning is the second metric to consider. This is used to determine whether the participants gained knowledge and skills from the leadership development programme. It’s important to remember, however, that this is a metric that measures the applicability of the learned information. While a programme may introduce learners to lots of new concepts and ideas, if they are not applicable then their worth may be limited.

It’s important for the programme leader to measure and assess course usage and completion rates, as well as course pass rates if these are applicable. The respondents may also receive a follow-up questionnaire to track how often they use the skills and approaches they have learned. Any questions need to be carefully considered so that they fully reflect the application of learned competencies and knowledge.


Effectively measuring behavioural change is a key metric when it comes to understanding the impact of a leadership development programme. This is used to assess and understand whether training has been transferred to on-the-job behaviour.

This should be used to assess learner competency and the extent of any improvement in their on the job. This will usually be assessed through questionnaires and performance reviews and may seek the opinion of people who work with the participants.


The final metric is an investigation of whether training had a tangible impact on the company’s results. Has it returned benefits that exceed the costs and is the return on investment favourable?

However, this is much more than just a cost-benefit analysis. It might include looking at the productivity of the participants, their teams and the company in general. It might consider issues such as retention and engagement. While it’s certainly possible to find a direct causal link between increased revenue and cost savings following on from a leadership development programme, often the benefits may be long-term.

For this reason, any assessment of results will need to look at the company in the round and the understanding that a leadership development programme will be one factor among many that contribute to its continued success or failure.

Invest in leadership development with a positive impact 

Leadership Success work with organisations to provide bespoke leadership development programmes that deliver results.  The one-size fits all approach is a thing of the past. Instead, we give your organisation access to leadership development experts who focus on the individual needs of participants, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

Contact us today to find out more about our approach and how we can deliver real results for your company.

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