The missing step that causes frontline leadership development programs to fail

Leaders are vital to the success of any organisation and we spend huge amounts of money every year developing them. The problem is that most of that development fails to yield the hoped for outcomes of increased productivity, reduced turnover and higher employee engagement. In fact sometimes it does the exact opposite.

This is particularly true when you are developing people who are in their first leadership position. I call them frontline leaders but you might use the term team leader, supervisor or leading hand.

Hopefully before they start in their new role they attend a program to give them the necessary skills.  In theory that seems the right thing to do but the process often fails in practice.

In an attempt to solve this problem many organisations spend extra time, money and effort to improve their development offering such as:

  • Accreditated or qualification based programs
  • More frequent sessions
  • Alternate delivery methods eg online, self paced
  • Better vetting techniques for the presenters

Whilst these strategies certainly do make a difference to the outcome I think there is a very important first step that is essential to success.


For any new leader to succeed there is some important preparation that must happen. I liken it to the preparation a gardener would do before planting. Gardeners know that if you take a healthy plant and put it in unhealthy soil it will struggle to survive or at least take longer than necessary to mature so that is why they spend time improving the soil. Equally the gardener knows that the plant itself needs to be prepared for its new location so they have what is called a “hardening off” period when moving it from a protected greenhouse into the garden.

To me, preparation is one of the 4 key steps in effectively development your leaders. I call it the Practical Leadership Development model. Working with organisations across many sectors I see too many of them making the same mistake.

They focus on developing a Plan then skip over the Preparation phase and go straight to Nurturing people via a development program and then follow up with the occasional session to Maintain their skills.

That is what I have consistently found when conducting my Leadership Development Stocktake.

After taking clients through my 40 point checklist and producing a report on the outcomes, many are surprised to find that they can dramatically increase the results they get from their programs without spending a lot of money. All they have to do is take care of the Preparation phase.

If you want to learn how you can do the same contact me to discuss how my Stocktake can help you to more effectively and efficiently develop your frontline leaders. 

Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is the frontline leadership expert.

She helps organisations grow their frontline leaders so they perform better, which improves team productivity, giving senior leaders peace of mind.

To learn about her services visit To book her to speak at your next event visit


Views: 200

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of HR Daily Community to add comments!

Join HR Daily Community

© 2019   Created by Jo Knox.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service