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Why You Should Formalize Your Leaders-as-Teachers Program

Leaders-as-teachers programs have been around for years, and a majority of companies have some variation of this concept—having leaders teach other employees about the business, strategy or other topics—in place. However, many of these efforts are informal, with only 17% of companies having enacted formal leaders-as-teachers programs.

New research from i4cp and ATD, featured in the report Leaders as Teachers: Engaging Employees in High-Performance Learning, explains why companies should take a hard look at formalizing what is largely an informal initiative. A few data points:

  • Only one in five organizations report their leaders-as-teachers programs as being highly effective.
  • High-performance organizations are 2x more likely to have formal programs than lower performers.
  • There is a high correlation between formalizing leaders-as-teachers programs and both market performance and learning effectiveness.

There are a myriad of benefits to be gained from implementing a leaders-as-teachers program, whether formal or informal. Such programs can result in a more engaged and informed workforce; for employees, simply the exposure to senior leaders is often seen as a benefit. Furthermore, employees learn firsthand from leaders' experiences, both successes and failures, and they have an opportunity to network with leaders.

Lisa Jashari, dean of R&D University at The Procter & Gamble Company, sums it up well: "The leaders-as-teachers approach has massive benefits for learners because of the credibility of the individuals teaching them. Leaders have credibility not only because they have been there and done that, but they’ve done it very successfully."

Leaders as Teachers Benefits

The teachers also benefit:

Leaders as Teachers Benefits to Leaders

At an organizational level, leaders-as-teachers programs offer strategic benefits as well (explained more in the report), including helping to align learning strategy to business strategy and helping to support a culture of learning.

Of course, benefits can be achieved through informal means, but the research confirms higher correlations to market performance and learning effectiveness when organizations formalize their programs. It may make sense for learning functions to begin leaders-as-teachers programs on an informal basis, but long-term plans should include a transition to formalization.

The full report, authored by i4cp's Carol Morrison, is available via the ATD Store, and a white paper that summarizes other key findings is available to i4cp members. You're also invited to attend a complimentary ATD webinar on October 1, in which i4cp CEO Kevin Oakes will present more findings recommendations from the research.

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.