Leadership development is crucial for organizational success, requiring an investor mindset for effective resource allocation. Essential elements include creating a safe environment for leadership practice and growth, aligning development efforts with expected leadership contributions and behaviours, and engaging organization sponsors to provide feedback and support. Actively involving sponsors enhances the confidence of leaders in development, contributing to high-performing teams.

    Leadership development is an investment… of limited organizational resources like time (of both those learning and their sponsors) and money. But like all good investments, the performance of this investment needs to be monitored. With an “investor” mindset in place, here are three things you should think about when considering leadership development in your organization.


    1| Have we established a safe space for leaders to learn, practice and evolve their leadership practices?

    Essential to developing a culture of innovation (a requirement for adopting AI as described in our blog A Leader's Guide for Adopting AI) is a confirmation of the work team being a place of psychological safety. Here, people are willing to step up and take creative risks and innovate but are also willing to own up to areas where they’ve not performed or contributed as expected.


    2| Is the development aligned to both what leaders are expected to deliver, and how they are expected to interplay with others on the team?

    To ensure a maximized return on the leadership development investment in your team, alongside the initial component of establishing that safe learning environment, there are two core and complementary components to include:

      • In the context of a changing external environment, what outcomes leaders are expected to contribute at different levels in the organization. This can clearly capture what leaders are accountability for, in demonstratable performance terminology.
      • Within the boundaries of individual and team roles, how are leaders expected to behave. When working with each other and with their teams, how do leaders communicate, talk about performance, represent the organization, or have difficult conversations.

    3| What mechanism have we established to engage with the sponsors of the development?

    Active involvement of sponsors in others’ development is positively correlated to an increase the confidence of those who are developing. Sponsors must be prepared and equipped to actively engage: ask questions, support demonstration of new skills and approaches, and – most of all – give feedback along the way.


    Teamwork has never been easy – but taking a specific and systematic approach to setting up your leaders for success will make all the difference.

    We need our teams to be “high performing”, “more effective”, or just “better”. Investment through active involvement and clear expectations helps to create a more enriching learning experience and ensures that your leadership development efforts are closely aligned with organizational goals and culture, meaning maximum returns on your initial investment.

    Let’s make 2024 the Year of the Team!


    About the Author

    Dean Fulford

    With more than 20 years of experience, Dean Fulford offers a deep expertise in leadership development, organizational development and design, project management, process mapping, and best-practice benchmarking activities to his client projects. With an extensive background in organization development and effectiveness, performance consulting and process improvement, Dean compliments his HR background with strong process management and competency-based project experience. He is a member of Stratford’s Leadership team, responsible for its Leadership Development practice area, bringing both product innovation and operational effectiveness to these services.