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The Challenge

According to Brandon Hall Group’s study, Great Leaders: How Do We Develop More? Only about one-third of organizations believe they are effective in developing great leaders.

The main reason most organizations report that they lack widespread agreement on the critical attributes and competencies of great leaders and how to develop them. The research shows that organizations that have a consistent approach to developing leaders are nearly four times more likely to say they are effective at it. 

Organizations do agree that there are many levels of leadership development that need to improve. At least 70% said it was important or critical to improve competencies or attributes such as the following:

  • Managing change
  • Coaching skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Strategic thinking

But even when organizations agree on the skills, competencies, and attributes they would like to see developed, more than two-thirds of employers believe their leaders have little or no time to learn or improve themselves. Simply offering leadership training does not mean you are doing a good job developing leaders. Leadership cannot be taught solely in a classroom. It can play a role, but classroom training doesn’t drive the kind of behavior changes many leaders must make to provide the coaching, feedback, and support their team members must have to thrive today and in the future of work.

The Rethink

More than 80% of respondents to the Brandon Hall Group research study How Do We Make Leadership Training Better? say leadership development should focus more on practical skills needed for current and future roles and provide more help in transitioning. This means many leaders go through training but don’t believe they can apply what they learned nor believe they have support after training to adjust to new or different roles.

The research also shows the need to stress experiential and informal learning over formal, classroom learning. The best way to drive behavior change in leaders is to put them in situations they will likely face and have them apply their knowledge in practical situations. Learning-by-doing has the most impact. Developing leadership takes time and practice.

Employers should provide time for their leaders and high potentials to absorb what they have learned and apply it in a safe environment, such as peer groups and live or online simulations. In addition to formal training, at least half of organizations say their leaders will leverage videos, web-based training, job aids, infographics, podcasts, or tool kits to get additional information on leadership.


The Recommendation

What Brandon Hall Group has to Say About EI Design’s Solution

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Platinum Preferred Provider EI Design understands well the pressures that organizations face with leadership development. They know how critical the programs are to the business, as well as the time and focus constraints that come with leadership development participants. EI Design brings its proven learning tools and frameworks and adapts them to the unique needs of leadership development to drive more successful programs.

EI Design also knows that leadership development is not just about the C-suite. Organizations need to develop the leaders of tomorrow, as well as build leadership qualities throughout the entire workforce. Some of the tactics that EI Design helps their clients with include:

  • Using engaging, immersive learning that is sticky and boosts retention
  • Look beyond learning to the application of the knowledge and skills on the job
  • Provide opportunities for both reflection and consequence-free practice to build skills
  • Create continuously available learning to help learners retain and reinforce their learning
  • Focus on behavioral change as an outcome, rather than only the transfer of knowledge
  • Ensure there are enough relevant resources to support ongoing self-directed learning
  • Include coaching and mentoring opportunities

Just like any facet of learning, tracking, and measuring leadership development programs is critical for continued success. Completion of a program is not a strong indicator of future performance, so it is important to have other metrics that are more focused on outcomes. For instance, ensuring that participants’ supervisors and other key team members provide feedback on behavior change and performance. Tracking these outcomes will provide a foundation for making improvements to the programs. Additionally, leadership development participants benefit greatly from success cases. Whenever goals or outcomes are achieved as a result of the learning program, share that across the organization.EI Design has a strong, sound vision for leadership development, and helps its clients shape their strategies to meet the needs of both learners and the business, as well as measuring and maximizing the ROI of these programs. Their approach to leadership development features all the hallmarks of successful learning programs, including:

  • A customized learning experience that builds engagement
  • Immersive learning experiences centered on highly relevant content
  • Custom learning paths that give learners more autonomy and help put goals in sight
  • Personalized feedback and spaced repetition to help build behavioral change
  • Tailored recommendations to aid in continuous, self-directed learning

EI Design’s approach to leadership development is designed to help L&D teams create better, more impactful programs, help learners get more out of their leadership development, and help the business develop strong leadership for now and into the future. 

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

 About Brandon Hall Group Inc. 

Brandon Hall Group is the only professional development company that offers data, research, insights and certification to Learning and Talent executives and organizations. The best minds in Human Capital Management (HCM) choose Brandon Hall Group to help them create future-proof employee development plans for the new era. For over 28 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world influencing the development of over 10,000,000 employees and executives. Our HCM Excellence Awards was the first to recognize organizations for learning and talent and is the gold standard, known as the “Academy Awards of Human Capital Management.” Our cloud-based platform delivers evidence-based insights in the areas of Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and HR/Workforce Management for corporate organizations and HCM solution providers. To learn more, visit For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit

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David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.