Leadership Development

6 Examples Of Incredible Leadership Development Programs (+ How You Can Develop Your Leaders)

Learn how to build successful leadership development programs through examples of these top companies.

Nathan Goldstein

Co-founder of Together

Published on 

February 23, 2023

Updated on 

May 28, 2024

Time to Read

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Most learning and development programs fail to deliver the desired outcomes, which contributes to low employee engagement and productivity. 

According to Gallup's 2023 State of the Global Workplace report, only 23% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, while 59% are "quiet quitting" — putting in minimal effort and psychologically detached from their jobs. 

When L&D programs fail to provide employees with the skills, knowledge, and motivation they need to succeed in their roles, it can lead to disengagement and a lack of commitment to their work. This widespread disengagement costs the global economy an estimated $8.8 trillion annually, equivalent to 9% of global GDP​.

So why do so many L&D programs fall short?

  • One-size-fits-all approach: Programs often lack customization, failing to address individual needs and learning styles. 
  • Lack of practical application: Without hands-on learning, theoretical knowledge rarely translates into real-world skills, leading to disengagement and low retention. 
  • Insufficient support and buy-in: Programs without strong leadership backing tend to falter. Gallup reports that 70% of team engagement is attributable to the manager’s role, highlighting the critical need for supportive leadership​​.
  • Failure to measure success: Many organizations do not track the effectiveness of their L&D programs. Without metrics, it's challenging to understand what works and what doesn't, leading to stagnation and disengagement. 

So, what can organizations learn from those who have cracked the code? Let’s explore six companies with exceptional leadership development programs and discover how they effectively support their employees' growth.

6 companies with amazing leadership development programs 

From hiring and training interns before they enter the workforce to building your own in-house university with a large array of resources – the companies below have gone above and beyond to ensure their employees develop essential leadership abilities and get the learning and development they want and need to do their jobs well. After all, empowering employees means empowering your organization.

When looking through these examples, pay attention to:

  • Employee groups – managers, graduates, minority groups, etc
  • Career level – interns, graduates, entry-level, etc
  • Types of learning and development – university teaching, classes, mentorship, etc

Let’s look at 6 companies with successful leadership programs:

1. Randstad: Cutting employee turnover by 49% with mentorship

Randstad, a Dutch multinational HR consulting firm, established a global mentoring program where every employee could find a mentor within the organization. They wanted to ensure each employee had access to training and development. 

This involved building an in-house mentorship program from scratch and matching mentors and mentees by determining suitability. Once they were able to create a scalable system that worked for them, they started seeing results. 

Through this global mentorship program, they could monitor employee turnover, focusing on those who participated compared to those who didn’t. They found that those participating in the mentorship program were 49% less likely to leave the organization.

2. Adobe: Transforming interns into future leaders

Adobe starts training employees even before they properly enter the workforce. 

They run a large and diverse internship program where interns are introduced and taught about everything that goes into operating the software company. They recruit interns from schools, colleges, and organizations like Girls Who Code. Adobe's internship program prepares interns to tackle real-world business challenges by providing personalized guidance and support. Plus, they provide new graduates with educational resources through Adobe Career Academy on the company’s practices.

Within these learning and development programs, they conduct regular check-ins, review performances, and collect feedback to ensure employees are ready to start new positions. And once in their new positions, employees are given educational stipends and access to leadership development courses. All of this helps these employees grow in their positions while preparing for the next career step.

3. Cigna: Tailored leadership development across 9 departments

Cigna’s leadership programs or Cigna’s LDPs have a more departmental focus. They recruit individuals for nine different areas such as marketing, sales, technology, etc.

These individuals then have access to mentorship and a dedicated program manager who watches over their progress and growth. 

As part of the program, individuals work across a variety of positions, attend the Cross Program Summit – to expand their network and meet Cigna’s leadership – and benefit from other business-related seminars. 

4. Allstate: Gaining cross-functional expertise with rotations

Allstate provides more well-rounded leadership training through multiple development programs accessed via rotation. For example, their Technology Leadership Development Program focuses on cross-functional learning through three rotations. 

These leadership programs provide valuable experience and training in the departments of technology, finance, data analysis, and more. And all of these programs are designed to challenge participants so they can gain valuable insights, perspectives, and experiences through assignments, workshops, mentorship, and more.

5. Deloitte: Investing $300 million in future leaders

Deloitte launched Deloitte University (DU), their $300 million leadership and learning center in Texas, US. Through this learning center, they provide live and virtual classrooms, team-based learning, networking opportunities, and more. 

The university aside, Deloitte strives to use L&D programs to boost inclusion efforts by running programs such as: 

  • Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) – designed to help high-performing minority managers to progress in their career path
  • Women’s Leadership Programs – set of intensive programs customized and built to boost the growth of high-talent women at different career levels.
  • Career sponsorship and mentoring – embedded sponsorship opportunities for various development programs, and more.

6. NBCUniversal: Promoting early career talent

NBCUniversal has been running their Page Program since 1933. This is a rotational learning and development program geared towards developing early career talent in the media industry. And so, this in-person leadership development program is mainly for early-career entry-level roles. And through the program, participants get exposure to NBCU and valuable experience in the media industry.  They complete assignments, network within the field, and serve as ambassadors of the program. 

Plus, they are paid hourly wages plus benefits so they can comfortably enjoy the full experience of the program.


Explore more
examples of successful mentoring programs

eBook Develop your high-potential employees with mentors

How to develop leaders: See the 3 different ways most companies choose

Organizations can choose from various leadership programs to promote leadership development and boost employee participation. Here are three effective methods:

1. Third-party development programs

Organizations can hire or outsource leadership development to established third-party programs known for their successful results. These programs typically cover essential leadership skills, leadership training, coaching, different leadership styles, and company operations from strategy to finance.

Examples:

  • Business schools: Comprehensive leadership programs from institutions like Harvard Business School, Yale (YGELP), and Wharton.
  • Online boot camps: Courses from platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Emeritus, BetterUp, and LEADx.

Types of programs:

  • Global business management
  • Family-owned business
  • Women’s leadership programs
  • Executive-level training
  • Customized leadership training
  • Project-based development
  • Community involvement training
  • Conflict resolution training

2. Internal mentoring programs

For a more tailored approach, companies can build internal leadership development programs. These programs connect emerging leaders with seasoned mentors, creating organic, cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Implementation:

  • HR advisors: Enlist HR professionals to create and manage the program.
  • Mentoring platforms: Use tools like Together designed to streamline the mentoring process.

3. Personal leadership development

Empowering employees to take charge of their own development can be highly effective. Providing learning stipends allows employees to pursue education based on their interests and career goals, increasing their investment in the company’s objectives.

Benefits:

  • Employees have agency in their career decisions.
  • Personalized learning leads to higher engagement and retention.

Create future leaders with actionable mentoring programs

Many successful leadership development programs have a strong emphasis on mentorship, whether through one-on-one sessions or group mentoring. Research consistently shows that workplace mentorship is a critical component of career development. Employees who have mentors are more engaged and less likely to leave the organization.

Plus, mentoring programs can be particularly powerful in supporting women and minority groups. Women who have benefited from mentorship and advanced in their careers often become mentors, creating a virtuous cycle of support and development. 

A workplace mentoring program can help ensure that all employees have access to the guidance and support they need to grow as leaders.

Ready to take your leadership development program to the next level? At Together, our intuitive online platform makes building and operating mentoring programs easy. 

Book a demo today to learn how we can help you empower your employees and drive your organization's growth.

FAQs

What are workplace leadership development programs?

Workplace leadership development programs help employees build and expand on leadership and management skills, personally and professionally. 

The goal of such programs lies in encouraging high-potential employees’ growth in their roles and within the organization.

Most leadership development programs are backed by research and run by HR or similar organizations within the company.

What should be included in a leadership development program?

A comprehensive leadership development program should include 

  • Assessment and feedback mechanisms
  • Customized training in leadership and functional skills
  • Mentorship and coaching opportunities
  • Experiential learning through job rotations and project-based assignments
  • Soft skills development in areas such as communication and conflict resolution
  • Networking opportunities
  • Project management and time management skills
  • Access to continuous education resources
  • A focus on instilling company values and ethics. 

What is the purpose of a leadership development program?

‍The purpose of a leadership development program is to equip current and future leaders with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experiences to effectively guide their teams and drive organizational success. 

These programs aim to enhance leadership capabilities, promote strategic thinking, improve decision-making, and foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within the organization. 

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