Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Sell Leadership Development to Your Organization

When it comes to success at the leadership level, the ability to communicate a plan, make informed decisions quickly, and influence effectively are crucial factors that have a direct impact on an organization’s bottom line. One study found that for every five GMs Cox Enterprises sent to a four-day leadership development program with a soft skills focus, the organization could count on adding $3.57 million dollars in revenue. Read the full article, "Turning Leadership Into Dollars," for details.

You know leadership development is valuable. So how do you communicate the value of LD training to a budget-conscious organization in a way that demonstrates the clear impact of LD on the bottom line? We have two suggestions that will help you sell LD to your organization:

1. Identify and engage the stakeholders directly
Find out who is sponsoring the initiative and ask critical questions to identify clear goals for the program. Maybe customer satisfaction ratings are down and the team leader wants to see a 50% increase in satisfaction ratings. Perhaps employee turnover rate is high, not only increasing onboarding costs but slowing down production as new employees get up to speed. The CEO wants to slow the rate of turnover by developing more effective leaders capable of inspiring and engaging employees. Asking questions like, “What specifically would you like to see change?” and “What do you want to see your people doing differently?” will not only make it easier to design a successful program, but will also create measurable goals. Pointing to a specific objective and comparing a snapshot of how it looked before and after your leadership development program will help make the case for LD training’s impact on the bottom line.

 It is important to recognize that there can be multiple factors contributing to your organization’s success on the agreed upon targeted outcomes. It would be folly to attribute all of your organization’s success to the effects of leadership development. There is a logical barrier to attempting to make that connection as well as some potential political pitfalls. Instead try to reach an agreement in advance of what part of that success can be attributed to leadership development.

Let’s build on the above turnover rate scenario as an example. Let’s say the stakeholder wants to see a reduced employee turnover rate of 5% over the next 12 months. It is possible, and likely your organization has already done so, to calculate the savings to an organization if this goal is achieved.  Try to reach agreement in advance as to what percentage of the associated organizational savings will be attributed to Leadership Development training. While there may still exist some ambiguity as to what that percentage should be, it is an excellent starting point for demonstrating in a tangible way the value of the development investment. Laying this groundwork and being able to successfully deliver the agreed upon goals provides a tremendous platform and organizational buy in when soliciting expanded budgets in the next cycle.

2. During the design phase, keep Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in mind

When you consider the desired outcome of a leadership development program, the objective is typically a change in behavior. Whether it is a large-scale change in company culture or a smaller shift in the way a team works together, trainers generally aim to reach Level 3 on the Kirkpatrick model: getting participants to apply what they learned in the leadership development program on the job. Organizations are often most concerned with the 4th level, Results or ROI. Will your training program impact the bottom line of the business? The fact is that everyone wants to focus on the 4th level when they set out to sell an LD program to their organization, but they don't know how to do the first three levels. Many trainers are familiar with the Kirkpatrick model, but unfortunately it’s pretty unusual to see training programs that succeed at reaching beyond level two. This is where the first point comes into play. If you ask critical questions of the stakeholders and establish measurable goals for your program ("What specifically would you like to see your people doing differently?"), you are better able to design a program that will have measurable results for your team. 

Incorporating post-measure tools (like the Discovery Leadership Profile 360 Plus program or follow-up coaching) will help you track the effectiveness of your desired outcomes and measure whether training really "sunk in" and affected participant behavior or just scratched the surface. Designing a program with a strategic focus on the first three levels of the Kirkpatrick Model will be critical in demonstrating to your organization that your leadership development program will reach that desired 4th level, results or ROI. 

Ultimately, we know that training in soft skills has a profound impact on the bottom line. In the article "Turning Leadership into Dollars," all five Cox Enterprises GMs studied were seasoned executives with years of experience in their roles. They knew their jobs inside and out. Their organization was looking for a way to help them become even better leaders. The four-day leadership program DLI designed with Cox Enterprises involved the critical stakeholders in establishing clear, measurable goals, it aimed at reaching the first three levels on the Kirkpatrick Model, and it made a $3.57 million dollar difference. By conscientiously laying the groundwork for your program by keeping both of these suggestions in mind, you will be better equipped to persuade a budget-conscious organization of the value of leadership development.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trends in Change Leadership: A Summary of 20 Years of Change in the Workplace

Discovery Learning, Inc. launched Change Style Indicator™ in 1994 and it has been in constant use by leadership and organizational development professionals ever since. Change Style Indicator™ (CSI) is an assessment instrument designed to measure an individual’s preferred style in approaching change and dealing with situations involving change. The assessment is research based and has been thoroughly validated with over 180,000 participants to date.

The following report looks at the compiled normative data through five different filters. For this initial report, Discovery Learning, Inc. chose to review Change Style Indicator™ scores by gender, age, organizational level, industry and over time. Our hope is that change managers as well as organizational and leadership development professionals can use this information to gain new insights into their organizations and accelerate adoption of change initiatives. This information is the first of its kind and we are very excited to share it with our community of training and development professionals. The following is an abbreviated summary of our findings. Click here to read the full report including analysis of trends in the data.


One of the most striking insights to come out of the Change Style Indicator™ normative data review was the trend associated with different age groups. We see a distinct trend where groups both entering and exiting the workforce tend to be more cautious when it comes to embracing organizational change. People in the 20-29 age group are the most cautious when it comes to organizational change. Some 9% more of the 20-29 population score as conservers than the group with the lowest conserver score, which is the 40-49 age range.


The differences in change style tendencies between men and women was one of the most striking findings of the data analysis. Here we see approximately 9% more women identifying as conservers than men. One of the primary strengths of conservers in the Change Style Indicator spectrum is their ability to successfully execute and implement projects and assignments. Senior managers who are building teams should be asking them­selves what might be missing when forming groups without adequate representation from women. The data also seems to indicate that, on average, women may be more successful in leadership roles where execution and implementation constitute critical success factors.


Discovery Learning, Inc. looked at over 60,000 participants who identified their seniority level within their organizations. The results paint an interesting picture of how individuals respond to change across organization levels. We found that twice as many individuals scored as conservers in the super­visory level roles than did those in top/ executive roles. Also a full 15% more top level managers and executives identified with being originators versus supervisory level participants. It is important to bear in mind that this data does not reflect the success rates of conservers or originators performance in these roles. Conservers in executive roles can be as successful as their originator counterparts, but successful conservers will demonstrate a different leadership style than successful pragmatists or originators.


The industries with the lowest number of individuals identify­ing as originators include: Law firms, public health organiza­tions, government agencies, and elementary and secondary education institutions. One of the traits that these types of or­ganizations face is that they operate within a reasonably regu­lated industry. On the other end of the Change Style spectrum we find a host of industries including: health products and equipment, me­dia publishing and nonprofit agencies. None of these however score as strongly originator as the technology and software in­dustry. In all of these industries there is a strong case to be made that constant and fast paced change is integral to suc­cess.


We are able to look at how people’s preferences regarding change have shifted over time. Looking at the data in this way provided interesting insights into how the population, as represented by approximately 180,000 participants, has shifted over time. Due to the way the data is captured, the timeline begins in 2001.

What we see is a distinct trend towards higher degrees of caution associated with change initiatives. Over a 13-year time span we see an increase in the number of individuals identifying as conservers increase by 7%. At the same time we see the same 7% reduction in the number of individuals identifying as origi­nators while those identifying as pragmatist remains relatively constant.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Use Assessment Certifications to Renew Your ICF Credential

The International Coaching Federation Certified Coach programs provide a strong credential for coaches focusing on professional development. At Discovery Learning, Inc. we have been asked many times whether our product certification process qualifies for ICF credits. We decided to do a little digging to determine how coaching-related product certifications in general can count towards your ICF certification.

While Discovery Learning is not an ICF-certified training provider, our certifications may be used to fulfill Continuing Coach Education (CCE) hours. CCE hours are a necessary component in credential renewal. A certain number of the required hours can come from a non-ICF certified provider, like Discovery Learning, as long as the curriculum of the training relates to the development of coaching skills. Many coaches use resources like individual assessments in their practice and the ICF makes provisions for this type of training. 

Certification in one of Discovery Learning’s individual assessments falls under the category of Self-Study in Resource Development Continuing Coach Education. For credential renewals, 16 of the 40 required hours can come from Self-Study. 

Certification in a DLI individual assessment typically takes about eight hours, which accounts for half of the total Self-Study Resource Development CCE hours you need to renew your ICF credential. In order to submit our certification process in an individual assessment for credential renewal, you will need to provide the following two items:

1. A certificate of completion from the training provider
2. A detailed overview of the curriculum to be reviewed by ICF

We can provide both of these required items for you upon request when you complete your certification. I spoke with a representative at ICF to better understand the requirements for the certification renewal process. She pointed out that right now these are the only two requirements for getting Resource Development credits. However, in either November or December participants looking to get credit for CCE and Resource Development credits will be required to fill out an application that details the coursework and ask the participant to relate the training to their professional coaching. For more information about our certification process, read here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us in the comments or give us a call.

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