Improve Talent Retention with this Approach to Leadership Development

As Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having themleave is not training them and having them stay.”

Henry Ford’swords have never been more pertinent as organizations struggle to hang ontotheir top performers in this economy. And though it’s tempting to instinctivelygo for that new shiny penny when a new leadership role opens up, what if therewas already an internal leader poised for the challenge as opposed to lookingexternally?

Leadership development strategies will not only prepare future leaders but improve talent retention across the organization. After years of developing wide-ranging programs, I’ve seen approaches from structured and intentional succession planning to general leadership training classes for the masses.

Whenevaluating your own leadership development programs and strategies, there’sonly one approach that will set you apart and improve talent performance andretention – and it can be applied to any strategy you already have in place.

CustomizeLeadership Development for Individual Leaders

It seems likea big ask. Investing more time to tailor your leadership development strategythough is necessary to stay competitive. The generic classes and trainingprograms that have been a product of traditional leadership developmentstrategies are not going to cut it. You must intentionally invest in eachleader you’ve identified as top talent.

Take the70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development. The learning and development modelcorresponds to a proportional breakdown of how people learn effectively, basedon a survey asking nearly 200 executives to self-report how they believed theylearned:

  • 70% from challenging     assignments
  • 20% from developmental     relationships
  • 10% from coursework     and training

As the surveyillustrates, every leader learns differently. It’s important to customize yourleadership development strategy based on how a top performer processesinformation. Not only will this better prepare your internal leaders for theircareer trajectory within the organization, it’s a unique benefit that willimprove your organizational retention and offer them an incentive to refuseexternal offers.

What does acustom leadership development program look like?

It’s notrealistic to design an entire customized program for each individual, aseffective as that might be. Instead, customizing your strategy should build onwhat you already have in place. For example, pair your top performers with aleadership consultant who can give real-time executive coaching inthe moment, whether for general leadership development orwhile integrating into a new leadership role.

Successfulfacilitators provide tailored growth and development to align the functional,cultural and organizational aspirations of a top performer with theorganization to accelerate performance. A leadership development strategy thatoffers real-time, customizable feedback and growth opportunities is alsoinvaluable to those looking for further opportunities within the organization.

In this warfor talent, your current workforce is your best weapon. Intentionallyinvesting in each individual leader by customizing your approach to leadershipdevelopment will maximize the return on your talent investment, and is one ofthe best ways to retain talent in this competitive marketplace.


Ginger Duncan

Ginger Duncan, MA is a senior leadershipconsultant and executive coach with The Human Capital Group, an executivesearch and leadership advisory firm. She has over 20 years of experience inleadership development, coaching, facilitation and training, plus 11 yearsleading the talent development function in a corporate setting