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Businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and other organizations are paying more attention to leadership than ever before. Leaders need to be informed on what their development initiative is designed to do and how its effectiveness will be determined. Kelly Hannum of the Center for Creative Leadership answers three key questions about leadership development evaluation.

First, What is evaluation and why is it important for leadership development? Evaluation is a process of collecting and synthesizing information in order to better understand the merit of an initiative. Evaluation helps people answer key questions, such as: Is the investment in leadership development worthwhile? What outcomes can be expected from leadership development? And how can leadership development efforts be sustained?

Second, So how does evaluation work? Leadership development evaluation varies depending upon the nature of the leadership development program and the organizational or community context. CCL recommends several evaluation practices. Some include:

  • Involving stakeholders in the process in order to appropriately consider multiple perspectives.
  • Designing the initiative and evaluation processes in conjunction with one another.
  • Discussing the evaluation’s purpose and how its information will be used.
  • And a final method of evaluation – using multiple measures to gather information about outcomes.

Third, What kind of impact can be expected from leadership development? Expected outcomes will vary depending on the goals and design of the leadership development initiative. Evaluators look for change and then ask, “What is the impact of these changes?” Change can be evaluated in one or more of the following areas:

  • Regarding individuals, evaluators look for changes in knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, identities, attitudes, behaviors and capacities.
  • Within groups and teams, there may be changes in workgroup climate, collaboration, productivity and so on.
  • In organizations, changes may occur in decision-making, leadership pipelines, shared vision, alignment of activities and strategy, and key business indicators.
  • And looking at communities, evaluators search for changes in leaders who are in decision-making positions, social networks, partnerships and alliances among organizations, and in other aspects of the community.

Evaluation is a key component of leadership development in today’s workplace. Your work will continue to be more effective if you evaluate it as you go.

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