All of your best plans for the creation of a global leadership development program may be meaningless if you do not obtain the buy in of key individuals or groups. Any organizational development program needs this buy in and approval, but a truly global program is probably going to require more work on your part; after all, your key individuals and groups are probably just as diverse as your program itself. Let’s look at the best process to use when looking for buy in from those key groups.
First, it is absolutely necessary to define the individuals and groups from whom you need to obtain buy in or approval. Before we move on, let’s look at the difference between buy in and approval. You’ll need to obtain buy in from any individual or group who can push your global leadership development program forward. This could include line managers, key organizational leaders, executives, and even various work groups. The concept of buy in also includes approval, but try not to forget the people who need to approve the program before it can move forward. Divide the key people and groups within your organization and determine which ones should “buy in” and which ones should “approve”. Tailor your presentation to each group, keeping in mind the cultural differences you may encounter within the organization and its regions. Most likely, you’ll come up with an executive group, a stakeholder group, managers and front line supervisors, and key business leaders throughout your system. And each group will require you to “sell” the global leadership program from a different perspective.
Many times, the executive group is more about the cost and benefits of a program. Of course, they want to have a general idea of the scope of the program, but overall they want to know how the program will impact the organization’s bottom line. And obviously they want to know how you’ll do this in a cost effective way. When you analyzed your budget and potential expenses, you created a matrix of methods, expenses, and overall program needs, as well as the cost of each category. Use this as a tool to present to the executive group. For each piece, know what the organization stands to receive, what benefits are going to come from each piece, and at what cost. Also be aware of how each piece of you program impacts the overall goals and mission of the organization-and of each region or geographic group the program will touch. As with any training program, a cost-benefits approach will get the attention of a group of executives, especially those that may control the flow of cash. If you’re asking for a budget for a global leadership development program for the first time, start with the most ideal program components and work from there.
For the purpose of our discussion, we will group managers, line supervisors, and key regional business leaders together as “stakeholders”. Each person in these groups has a stake in the program, from the cost in time and employee presence to the expected final benefits. Stakeholders may be a more difficult sell than your executive group. Some stakeholders may see a global leadership development program as a threat to their efficiency or even to their own control over the groups they manage. This may be caused by fear over what will happen if some of their employees devote time to the program, or even fear that the individual stakeholder may not get into the program. If your leadership development program includes a succession plan, these stakeholders may see the program as an “organized robbery” of their best and brightest employees.
Your reaction to these objections should be twofold. First, find a way to meet the individual objection with facts, costs, and expected benefits. Of course, one of the best ways to handle objections is to send out a gentle reminder that the purpose of the program is to further the overall mission of the organization, and that everyone involved stands to benefit from a global impact. Second, your response to objections should take into account the regional and cultural differences you’ve already uncovered in your research. No response to an objection should be “canned” or across the board in the case of a global leadership development program.
But once you obtain the buy in and approval of your key groups, you can put those groups to work for the program. Have them “plug” the program to anyone who may be a potential candidate, using the same benefits you used with the stakeholder groups. With buy in from important groups, you’ll see that potential leaders go through the program with much more ease, and possibly quicker. Your key stakeholders will realize the value of taking employees off of the line in order to attend training, coaching, and networking sessions. And those stakeholders will start to see the value of the program as the participants develop their leadership work styles.
The final challenge you may face when implementing a global leadership development program is the challenge of managing the program-and keeping it moving forward.