5 Elements Required to Successfully Develop a Leader

Making real and lasting change is difficult. CEO’s, Learning and Development, and Human Resources invest time, money and energy to help managers make lasting change to the way they lead. More often than not, those efforts fall short and managers go back to old habits. The results are dismal including increased turnover, less than stellar performance, and low employee engagement.

We’ve learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to successfully develop a leader while implementing leadership development programs with organizations of all sizes and industries. Whether you work with us or not, these are the 5 critical elements that need to be a part of your leadership development program in order to successfully develop your leaders.

1. Self-Awareness. In order for anyone to make changes in their life, it starts with deciding themselves its time to change. A great way to get managers to open up to change is to create self-awareness of their leadership strengths and weaknesses. We create self-awareness with Elevating Others 360°  Reports that are completed by a manager and their direct reports. Regardless of whether you use LearnLoft’s assessment or someone else’s a few of the essential competencies you should measure are:

  • Vulnerability
  • Empathy
  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Coaching

2. Proven, Implementable Content. You attend a class full of theory and the materials that look like they were from the 1970’s. If you were able to get past the hideous powerpoint (because of an engaging trainer), by the time you return to work, you’re scratching your head wondering how to actually implement what you just learned. Sound familiar?

The content you use to develop leaders has to be easy to recall and even easier to implement. LearnLoft has spent years researching and testing our content. It’s actionable, and it works! Our workshops not only use models, and very specific examples but also exercises that get people thinking about themselves and their teams. Whatever content you choose or build for your program make sure it works and it’s aligned to what’s happening in the workplace today.

3. Coaching. Coaching not only adds accountability it also drastically improves the success of leadership programs. The latest research shows leadership development programs that include coaching see as much as a 60% improvement over programs without coaching. Whether you use peer coaching, group coaching or one-on-one coaching, the point is to include it with your program. You will see a drastic shift in engagement and in results for your organization. Depending on your size, a great option is to certify a group of people within your organization to coach your content.  

4. Ongoing Education. Workshops or training events should be the beginning, not the only part of your program. We all know the statistics on information retention, so I won’t bore you. Whether you do online training or reinforcement webinars, you should be touching your learners with some type of reinforcement to keep their development top of mind. Let’s face it, they’re leading teams and attending learning events or logging into an online module is at the bottom of their priorities. Make reinforcement events worth their time by providing valuable content, and they will engage.

5. Elective Enrollment. Instead of forcing your leaders through training, offer them the opportunity to improve their leadership skills by enrolling in an incredible experience. Doesn’t that sound a lot more tempting? Registration into a leadership development program shouldn’t be something they have to do it should be viewed as an opportunity they’re given. If you include an application step or other requirements (ie: being nominated by peers or direct reports) to attend, you’ll see an increase application of your program and engagement.

If you include these 5 elements into your next leadership development program, it will have the best chance to be a success.

7 Best Practices to Develop Leaders In Your Organization Need some more ideas to help ensure the leadership program in your organization is up to par?  Download the the whitepaper here.

Don’t know where to start? We’d love to help! Talk to a leadership expert here.

Coming this Summer! Our book Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success with publishing partner McGraw Hill.

So You’re Not as Good of a Leader as You Thought. Here’s What To Do Next

As he read the comments from his team, I saw his facial expression change from excited to confused. At one point he looked up and said, “It’s hard to believe they don’t think I care about them and that I only care about their performance.” Sitting back in his chair, he to process the new information. I will never forget the next thing he said:

“As much as I hate to read this about myself, I can’t change now because I am set in my ways. My team knows me too well. They would never think of me any other way, even if I did change the way I led.”

There was some truth behind his words. The reality, however, was that he had the ability to change, but was not willing to put in the required work to do so.

Many professionals in today’s world find themselves in a similar situation. You could debate for hours as to why there is an abundance of bad bosses in organizations, but I am going to simplify it into three main reasons:

  • Previous examples of leadership
  • Love of power, authority, and control
  • Protecting their position within their organization

Author Brad Lomenick joined me on a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast, agreed, “We have a cycle of bad leadership that continues to perpetuate itself on itself. For years, if not decades, bad bosses lead the way they were led, compared to how they want to be led.”

No matter where you fall on the leadership spectrum of a subpar to great, there is good news. It is not too late for you to become a better and more effective example for your people. While an older professional may be more set in their ways than someone who is in their first year of management, both can put in the work required to develop and improve their leadership skills.

Here are three steps to transform a bad boss into a great leader.

1. Know the steps to change behavior.

Changing a behavior or habit is difficult no matter who you are. As much as we all want to positively influence the behavior or others, it is up to them to implement the change. That does not mean we should avoid doing things that help people open their hearts and mind to the idea. My friend Alan Stein Jr. laid out three steps towards advancement that I have related to leadership:

Awareness — Becoming informed about how you are leading today

Understanding the Impact – Clearly comprehending the effects changing as a leader will have your life and what is at risk if you do not change

Reconditioning — Developing new leadership habits and behaviors

2. Understand what it really means to be a leader.

Leadership is commonly thought of as being in a position of power, prestige, or responsibility. The problem with this is that it considers only yourself. That is the direct opposite of leadership is all about. I have come to define leadership this way, “Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time.”

Leadership is about other people, not yourself. It is important for you to wrap your head around your own ability to put the needs of other individual above your own. LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, articulated this in a business sense on a recent episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, “As a manager, you aren’t meant to just direct your employees or to create their to-do list. Your job is to turn their light on.”

3. Focus on your example.

Too often leaders get caught up in coming up with the right words to say or the right speech to give instead of just turning to the most powerful thing they have control over, their own example. Instead of making some big announcement about the changes you are going to employ, just focus on your actions because they truly speak a lot louder than words.

It could all be simplified this way: Focus on spreading leadership at all times only using words when absolutely necessary.

Free Welder Leader Profile Assessment Join over 25k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what profile you are for free.

Free Culture Assessment Join over 200 companies who have discovered what level of company culture currently exists in their organization today. (Toxic, Deficient, Common, Advanced, Elite) Take it for free here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

The High Performance Leadership Challenge [Video]

Most leaders regardless of tenure stray from keeping their purpose, mission and vision at the forefront of everything that they do. They focus on the lagging KPI’s not the leading KPI’s.  This causes employees to be unsure of why they come to work, unfulfilled in the work that they do, and a culture focused solely on results instead of the process.

It was important to our leadership team that this didn’t happen to us.  This is our journey on how we solved it.  Hopefully you can learn some best practices to put into place in your own teams.

Learn more at about ‘High Performance Leadership’ for you or your team here.

Follow the 4 week journey on YouTube by subscribing.


The Most Effective Methods to Align with the Modern Learner

The modern learner is misunderstood. Yes, they love technology, enjoy collaboration, and prefer shorter content. What’s interesting is despite all that, they don’t actually learn any differently than previous generations. Furthermore, as our society moves more towards connectivity, seasoned professionals are growing to expect these same things.

The availability and accessibility of quality learning content has increased dramatically since the invention of the Internet. Organizations are now expected to create and deploy meaningful content to their learners, while still simultaneously measuring its impact.

Of all the training methods organizations are using to align to the modern learner, which ones are most effective and can be best measured?


Asking the learner to do something in response to training content. Getting them actively involved in the learning to not only ensure knowledge is transferred to be to engage them beyond traditional training. This could be responding with a video, uploading a picture, etc.


Using the power of the collective intelligence and todays modern technology. Essentially leveraging other people beyond one learner to engage and educate. Things such as likes, views, comments, etc.


Allowing team members to curate and build their own training content. Whether that be a YouTube video or a first line manager recording their own video, curating content from the audience is powerful and effective. The best part is people are more than willing to participate.


Breaking down content into small digestible chunks can be an extremely effective way to align with the modern learner. We define microlearning as “short burst of content ensuring knowledge is transferred in a visible, tangible or measurable way.”

It’s time the modern learner isn’t treated differently and organizations begin effectively aligning with them.

If your organization is already using some of these methods you are ahead of the curve.   If you are still stuck in the dark ages using an LMS, hour long webinars, and multi-day instructor led training events, pick one of these methods out and give it a chance. You will be amazed at what happens.

Want to try an a new way to train an develop? Sign up for LearnLoft’s Learning Platform and leverage a free 14 day free trial. Here.

5 Ways to Make Your Outdated Training Methods Effective

Many organizations struggle with outdated training methods that are no longer effective for various reasons. Whether it be generational differences, technology enhancements or stale content, the need to change and adapt has become a requirement to stay aligned to the modern learner. But the transition from making old technology and old content work for modern learners is not only a time consuming process, it’s a hard one. So, where do you start?

Here are 5 simple ways to be more effective in aligning to the modern learner.

  1. Leverage Video – Video popularity doesn’t even need stats anymore. It’s blown up. Platforms like Youtube, as well as Social networks that primarily leverage video, like Snapchat (How Snapchat is changing Corporate Learning) , has created video monsters in modern learners. Organizations have taken notice and are using it at the highest rate of all time. It doesn’t hurt that it’s cost effective for both building and deploying as well.
  2. Stretch Their Thinking – Providing content that helps the learner stretch their mind  goes a long way in being more effective with the modern learner. Using stories, models, or even a theory is a fantastic way to do this.
  3. Include Social – The modern learner is social and they are willing and able to engage with each other to help others learn. Use social functionality to leverage the collective intelligence and improve engagement.
  4. Involve the Learner– The best way to be sure you know something is to teach it to someone else. Asking learners to teach back or for action after learning is a fantastic way to be more effective with the modern learner.
  5. Provide Coaching– The easiest thing to get right, yet the one that is often not leveraged. Give learners feedback and coaching based on their actions and involvement in the learning process.

All of these might not be necessary for every learning program, but each one will go a long way in being more effective in developing the modern learner.

Want to see a modern learning program in action?  Check out LearnLoft’s out of the box Leadership Development Program for young professionals. Getting Leadership Ready Program.