“Nice and inspiring” - Perceived effectiveness of a leadership development program

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
Leadership development programs constitute a billion-dollar industry worldwide. However, evaluation of these training programs and various leadership development initiatives is relatively scarce and inherently challenging. This master's thesis dives into examining the effectiveness of a leadership development program from the participants' viewpoint. The objective of the thesis is to explore the perceived effectiveness, potential skill development and changes in participants’ behaviors. Additionally, the study examines factors that were perceived the most influential from participant perspective. The aim of this study is to highlight themes that were considered the most influential to help enhance development programs and increase the impact of training by utilizing these themes. The study was conducted in a Finnish real estate management company that wished to remain anonymous in the study. The data consists of interviews with seven individuals working in managerial roles and who took part in the program. Semi-structured interviews were used as the method of data collection and the data was analyzed using Kirkpatrick's four-level model as the framework. Based on the findings, participants generally found the leadership development program meaningful, exciting, and educational. However, despite this positive feedback, the interviews revealed that participants struggled to articulate what they had learned, finding it difficult to define their learnings and the impact the training had on their behaviors. Participants considered group and pair discussions as the most meaningful element of the training, providing them with new perspectives and an opportunity to share challenges related to working in managerial roles. Participants particularly highlighted the improved internal collaboration and increased collegiality as positive outcomes of the training. The study brings to light the complexity of defining leadership and effectiveness, as well as the challenges associated with evaluating leadership development initiatives. While the leadership development initiatives are mainly examined from the perspective of knowledge and skills, as well as financial terms, the study raises the question of whether development initiatives focusing on the qualities necessary in leadership position could have more favorable effects on developing leaders.
Thesis advisor
Vuorenmaa, Hertta
leadership, management, leadership development, learning
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