The research uncovers the key aspects of successful leadership training companies and programs. It identifies the elements that lead to the success of training service providers and the long-term commitment of clients. With some problems remain to be resolved, companies are expected to combine the strengths of different types of training providers to improve the effectiveness of training and gain competitive advantages in the market.
Important Offerings By Highly-rated Training Providers
- IMD offers open programs that were consistently rated the first by Financial Times between 2012 and 2019; its executive programs were also rated the third globally over the past 8 years. IMD believes that 5 elements are critical to be the best leadership training programs, namely “a focus on understanding human behavior, emphasis on self-awareness as a means to improve leadership skills, relevance to issues in the real business world, learning through experience, and follow-up support.” IMD offers both in-classroom and virtual programs that focus on the key elements of leadership, such as behavioral change, inspiration, and performance-based training.
- Harvard Business Publishing was rated one of the top 20 leadership training companies by Training Industry in 2020. Leading business schools offer training programs that tailor their courses to organizational contexts and offer one-on-one coaching services, the latter allows learners to maximize their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
- Center for Creative Leadership is another company rated among the top 20 leadership training providers by Training Industry. As a specialist in leadership development, many of its innovative practices are perceived as industry best practices. The company has developed training courses based on research and uses a variety of assessment and online tools, which customize the content to clients’ specific needs. Its programs are unique to different levels of leaders, from frontline/new leaders to senior executives; also offers tailored leadership courses and virtual coaching services.
- As an innovative developer of leadership training programs, Eagle’s Flight has developed practical training courses that help clients build customer-centricity into their business and center on customer experience. Its training offerings focus on the outcome of training through experiential learning approaches and data-based assessment. Various tools are used to change the behavior of learners and improve their productivity. The company’s practice in training new leaders are perceived to be successful, which combines principle-based training with practical applications; allows learners to gain more understanding and apply their knowledge in the long term.
- DDI, a highly-rated leadership consulting and training company, offers evidence- and science-based solutions, such as “Interaction Management® leadership development program, Business Impact Leadership® mid-and senior-level series, and Targeted Selection® behavioral interviewing.” These learning systems aim to change both leaders and the bottom-line performance of their organizations.
- In summary, there are pros and cons of different providers in the leadership training market. As illustrated in the chart above, service providers are expected to combine the strengths of different types of companies to gain competitive advantages.
Aspects of Leadership Training For Clients’ Long-term Commitments
- Research by Harvard Business Review reflects that learners were unable to apply what they have learnt into the workplace due to the different contexts of learning and working. This has led to the reversal of employee behavior to the old ways of doing things and a low return on training investment. To improve the effectiveness of leadership training, leading business schools have adapted their training content to align organizational contexts and strategies.
- For example, by leveraging its affiliation with Harvard Business School and Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Publishing co-develops the training courses with global 2,000 companies in line with their business strategies and engages learners. Courses that solve specific challenges faced by learners are expected to engage clients in the long term through continual improvement and training.
- Traditional executive training programs tend to focus on cognitive skills and courses that are taught in MBA programs. The new competitive advantage, among business schools and corporate training providers, is the development of soft skills and emotional intelligence. For example, “relational, communication, and affective skills” are critical to the success of training programs and engage learners.
- With the increasing demand for soft skills, clients start to seek case-based teaching and action-learning programs offered live, online. For example, the IE Business School in Spain uses technology to track the facial expression of learners in its executive training programs, which allows the business school to better engage learners and facilitators.
- Another example is the Rotman School of Management that uses an emotional spectroscopy technology to monitor voices, faces, and gazes when people speak in the school’s Self-Development Lab. These new measures help engage learners, potentially leading to their long-term commitment.
- According to research by Harvard Business Review in 2019, the turnover of learners is one of the three main causes of disjointed leadership training, in addition to ineffective course content and the learners’ inability to apply knowledge. As employees do not always stay in the same company where they have received training, a training program jointly managed by both training providers and employers is expected to retain learners. The research recommends a tailored and democratic approach that allows employees to use personal learning cloud, in other words, online learning marketplaces, such as Coursera, for lifelong learning.
- Although employee turnover remains a challenging issue to many organizations, training service providers with a rich repository of knowledge and practical learning materials are expected to possess the competitive advantages in the market. For example, DDI offers a leadership course focusing on talent engagement and retention; Harvard Business Publishing has a variety of proprietary resources in employee retention, such as a case study on the practice adopted by a national pharmaceutical company.