Are Leadership Development Programs Worth Your Time?

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 8, 2023

Are leadership development programs worth your time, let alone your monetary investment?

The answer to that question depends on several factors, one of which is the mindset. Some, for instance, believe that leaders are born, not made. This bias can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy – that is, anyone with prejudice against learning leadership skills will almost certainly gain less than someone who is open to the idea.

At the same time, those who value leadership development programs may suffer from the opposite bias and see positive results regardless of the efficacy of the program.

For this reason, Harvard Business School Publishing argues that organizations must measure the impact of leadership development. To be effective, leadership programs should generate tangible results. When evaluating potential programs, this is one of the first points to consider.

Below, we’ll look at what value leadership development programs have to offer.

Questions to consider when evaluating leadership development programs

Leadership development programs come in many shapes, sizes, and styles, and programs are typically offered at three types of venues:

  • Higher education institutions
  • Private educational institutions 
  • Private organizations or businesses, such as consultancies

In some cases, one’s own organization may even offer the training.

The choice of training provider should be the first question asked and answered when evaluating options. 

Other questions to consider include:

What content does the course cover? Every program’s content is unique and focuses on specific topics. Some cover general leadership skills, while others focus on general management skills. There are also many that discuss specialized topics, such as leading organizational change or driving digital transformation.

What are my personal goals and my career goals? Every program focuses on different skills or a different specialty, so it is important to choose a program that aligns with one’s own objectives.

Does the program bring results? Alumni of the program should provide testimonials about the program’s effectiveness, ideally demonstrating measurable gains that resulted from attending the program.

Are there benefits to certification? Certifications are frequently offered by leadership programs at graduate schools. For some professionals, having that certification can be a good credential booster. Others, however, may solely be interested in the course content.

What are my job requirements? Some job roles may have specific expectations or requirements, such as an exact skill set or certification. Today’s CIO must possess both technical skills as well as business skills, so training in both areas can be useful.

What are the admission requirements? Some programs are designed for executives with extensive experience in leadership positions, while others are open to anyone. 

How much does the program cost? The cost of leadership development programs can vary greatly depending on the training provider. The most reputable higher education institutions can charge well over $10,000.

What is the program’s schedule? In 2020, most leadership development programs that only offered in-person classes moved online, making them ideal options in today’s remote work world. Though some may shift back to an offline format when feasible, others may continue to be offered virtually.

Once these questions are answered, it will be much easier to narrow down the countless choices of programs and find one that is suitable.

5 examples of leadership development and management programs

To better understand the types of leadership development and management programs that are available, let’s look at a few examples:

Harvard’s program for leadership development is a general program that provides learners with insights into business operations and the global economy. It emphasizes topics such as change and innovation and is designed to help experienced managers become more effective leaders in a changing world.

Standford’s online executive leadership development program is a three-week intensive course designed for upwardly mobile managers and leaders. The course covers three core areas: business acumen, innovation, and leadership. As with Harvard’s program, the course is designed for those who already have years of experience working as a manager or executive.

The University of Washington’s executive development program dubs itself as an alternative to an MBA. Offered nightly, once a week, the program is designed for executives who want an MBA but are too busy to obtain one. As of publishing this article, all programs are being offered online until mid-2021.

Wharton’s leadership and management certificate program is an online, flexibly-paced program designed for leaders and senior-level managers who want to boost their leadership skills and their marketability. Topics cover areas such as employee engagement, organizational architecture, strategic leadership, and quantifying global market trends.

Cornell’s leadership programs include certificates that cover a range of content, including leadership essentials, leadership agility, executive leadership, business strategy, and many more. The sheer number of options makes Cornell’s offerings an excellent opportunity for any manager or leader who wants to build their resume and skill set.

The examples covered here are only a few of the many training and certificate options on the market. Since they vary so greatly in terms of course content, quality, and availability, it is well worth it to spend more time researching the different programs to find the correct one for you.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.