5 Ways to Sell Your Manager on Leadership Development

Think it might be time to boost your leadership skills? If so, you are not alone.

Professional development is notably important to younger workers — 50-65% of millennials are in their current job because of learning and career opportunities, according to What Millennials Want from Work — but is important to employees of all generations. In a recent survey, we found that 50% of managers want to attend a face-to-face leadership development program in the near future.

Time away from the office isn’t easy to schedule, we know. But face-to-face leadership development has the most impact, especially if it includes options for supporting and extending the work after the course is over. And getting out of the office and the daily routine creates space for learning that is hard to come by, with the interruptions and overload of day-to-day work.

So if you need help convincing your boss to send you to an off-site leadership development training, here are 5 things you can say.

These 5 Points Will Convince Your Boss to Send You to Leadership Training


1. “I’m doing a good job in my current role. Now is the perfect time to prepare for what’s next.”

People can always benefit from intensive leadership development work, but it’s especially important in certain situations. One key time to provide someone with training is when they are a high performer, eyeing the next step and on track for a promotion.

If you know that you are considered a high potential, are about to take on additional responsibilities, or are in line for a new role or different assignment, now is the time to prepare.

Tell your boss you want to start thinking about the next-level challenges and figuring out what you need to learn and experience to be ready. It’s a known way to increase buy-in from high-potential talent such as yourself.

2. “I’m ready to tackle the big changes with new thinking.”

Change requires leaders who are able to learn and adapt. Leaders who can adjust course quickly have learning agility, and learning agility is what you need if you want to have a long career.

Effective leaders recognize when new behaviors, skills, or attitudes are needed, and accept responsibility for developing them.

A leadership program — not a “check-the-box” training, but an intensive, personalized leadership development experience — can give you a chance to step back and understand the shifting demands placed on you and your team. It can help you take time to identify how to become more effective in driving change — and to start to build new, needed competencies.

3. “I will make the most of my time out of the office.”

The #1 way people learn to lead is on the job. But to fully benefit from your day-to-day experiences, you need a plan and some space to encounter new ideas, new tools, and new people.

The right off-site leadership program will give you valuable content, but you won’t sit in rows, passively listening to an expert talk. You’ll get interaction and conversation.

Plus, for information to stick, you’ll want to see how it applies to you and have a chance to “try on” new behaviors that will help you be effective back at work. A face-to-face, off-site leadership program gives you needed space and dedicated time to address your goals and challenges. You can also share with your boss these 4 reasons in-person development is so effective.

4. “Leadership development is an investment in my future — and a way to help me stay engaged in my work today.”

Leadership development is a way to learn what is needed to manage yourself (thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions) and to work with others (interpersonal skills, the ability to build and maintain relationships, the ability to build effective work groups, and communication skills, to name a few) — all while operating within the larger system. When you continually develop in these areas, you become more effective.

But boss support is crucial. Managerial support for your development as a leader can fuel engagement, energy, and a willingness to stay. Research shows all employees, at every level, want to gain new skills, add credentials, and boost their capabilities. If you’re doing a good job in your current role, your boss probably wants to keep you motivated, learning new things, and engaged.

5. “Leadership development is shown to have both personal and organizational impact.”

Investing in leadership impacts both the individual and the larger organization. At CCL, we’ve studied the impact of our programs on both, and it can make a real difference. For example, an evaluation of our flagship Leadership Development Program (LDP)®) found that:

  • 99% of all leaders in the program reported positive personal impact after the program — and 98% of their managers and coworkers agreed;
  • 88% of leaders reported they were more invested in the success of their organization; and
  • 91% of our participants said they felt more engaged as an employee.

Relevancy and application are among the reasons that CCL is consistently ranked by the Financial Times among the world’s top providers of executive education.

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