Measuring the impact of a leadership development course

May 25, 2021

Hello Heroes! In your experience, what's worked best to measure the impact of a leadership development program or course? What methodology/tools helped you collect the data that best demonstrated whether your course worked or didn't work? Thanks in advance for your ideas and expert opinion.

2 Replies
john faulkes

There are a very significant three words in your question: '...program or course'. 

A 'program' implies that there are planned, practical applications of new skills and perhaps some coaching/observation and feedback. The very best measurements are:

  1. A learner's line manager verifying that new leadership behaviours that they wanted to see, are being displayed
  2. 360-type feedback from those being led by the learner, that s/he is leading well

A 'course' may contribute only a small amount of the overall impact of a program. But still be a vital kick start. It may get people to think about their approaches, or may go as far as getting people to practice by scenario, role play etc. These things can all be observed/captured and peoples' performance assessed, as well as their knowledge checked.

The 'program', workplace impact measures described above, are great in theory but the L&D person or Instructional designer may not have any remit or influence over these. Also, No. 1 above, is very powerful but frequently no-one in the organisation really does it right. 

There is however one further arena where the trainer can measure, and that's in a 'regroup' of course participants, where they share what they've done since the course, what's worked, what hasn't, etc.

Michelle Salzer

This is a great question.

John gave some great points. I like the Manager and the 360 feedback. Sometimes it takes a while or is difficult to get feedback from others, but if Leadership is serious about measuring impact, they'll make a way to get that data from Management.

I haven't been able to measure impact as much as I'd like to but I do know one small thing you can do is measure Confidence--"How confident were you at this skill before taking this course? After?" Learners can rate their level of confidence or level of competence. It's still just a basic survey of their thoughts but it's a start.

At my previous place of employment, we leveraged the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) since our industry was in Operations. We did not say there was a direct correlation, but we did note the timing of our training programs and the TRIR decrease since then. That was helpful.

I'm following this thread to see what others do to measure impact.