Customizable Leadership Development Programs – The Best of All Worlds

headerimage01It’s easy to abdicate leadership development to “the experts” and opt for a big name university, or leadership company for your leadership development program. And it’s just as easy to think, “developing a leadership development program is easy; we can whip one out in no time.”

The truth is that vendor-hosted (send your leaders off to a university or campus), off-the-shelf (you buy it and have it delivered to your people), and home-grown programs offer advantages and disadvantages:

Vendor-hosted programs tend to:

  • Be simplest to deploy; simply enroll and attend.
  • Be best suited for small organizations with no internal leadership development programs.
  • Provide quality well-researched content and refined models (increasing learning).
    Include a degree of prestige and/or certification that is recognized by others.
  • Be inviting to the most motivated since participation sometimes requires effort outside of designated work time. (And, if web-based, requires discipline to pay attention and participate.)
  • Be quite expensive when viewed on a per-person cost basis; however, because of the small numbers of enthusiastic, self-motivated, qualified leaders within the organization who enroll, the cost is contained.

Off-the-shelf programs tend to:

  • Have content that is better researched (adding credibility to the program) than home-grown programs.
  • Have models that are more refined (making them simpler to learn and easier to adopt).
  • Have learning activities that are engaging and instructionally sound (increasing the speed and depth of learning).
  • Have high quality videos demonstrating skills in action (adding a valuable instructional component and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning).
  • Have a functional (and sometimes robust) 360° survey and reporting (adding a critical component to leadership development).
  • Avoid copyright issues since the proprietary materials are owned by the vendor for use with the client.
  • Have no design or development/customization costs since the programs are pre-packaged (which also reduces the relevance/applicability of the content). If “customization” is allowed, it typically is relegated to adding your company’s logo or changing the program name.
  • Have significant ongoing delivery costs since often instructors and materials must be supplied by the vendor.

Home-grown programs tend to:

  • Address the organization’s specific leadership challenges (making the program far more focused and often shorter).
  • Use the organization’s terminology and language (making it easier for people to learn and apply).
  • Use the company’s leadership competencies and behaviors as the foundation of the content.
  • Have more organizational buy-in (assuming that focus groups are used to identify needs support).
  • Have significant design and development costs. (Even though these costs may be hidden or ignored since they are internal costs. Six designers/developers working for six months at a salary of $100K result in design/development costs of $300K.)
  • Have lower delivery costs since internal training and materials production resources can be used.
  • Not include more sophisticated elements found in vendor-hosted and off-the-shelf-programs such as instructional videos, web-based training, mobile apps, and implementation support.

In my experience, vendor-hosted programs are useful for smaller organizations that have a few motivated leaders wishing to take it upon themselves to improve their leadership capabilities. Off-the-shelf programs provide the most immediate, instructionally-sound solution to the organization needing an organization-wide leadership development program quickly. Home-grown solutions are best suited for organizations with unique leadership needs or for organizations who view their leadership as a core competitive advantage AND who have significant time, resources, and money to create their own program.

There’s a Better Solution

There are companies – Entelechy, Inc. being one of them – who provide the best of off-the-shelf with the best of home-grown. While you get all the bells and whistles (award-winning content, engaging activities, simple and effective models, WBT, mobile app, 360° survey, etc.) of an off-the-shelf program that has been refined over 22 years, our unique licensing structure enables you to customize the program and use it just as you would your own home-grown program, without additional fees ever.

“You’re biased,” you say. Of course I am, but my bias comes from being in your shoes! Before starting Entelechy in 1992 I was a training designer and training manager at several large companies. My job was to take the training we’d paid millions for and modify it to make it work in our organization. I was frustrated with vendors who refused to give us the freedom we needed to make their stuff work in our organization! I vowed that “if I ever started my own company, I’d do things differently.” Which is why today we allow – we ENCOURAGE – you to modify the materials to make them fit even better within your organization!

For more information, visit our Unleash Your Leadership Potential website:

Read more valuable leadership and management-related articles in this month’s Unleash Your Leadership Potential newsletter…

March 2015

Author: STEP Consulting