3 Types of Leadership Development Programs to Up-Skill Your Team

A group of professionals after participating in a leadership development program

Unlock your team's potential with a leadership development program

Great leaders are coached, not born. Even those who naturally excel at crafting companies and creating value can stumble when providing leadership and driving their organizations forward. Some of the most successful, innovative companies can struggle when it comes to effective, impactful leadership.

A leadership development program can mean the difference between a few good leaders and a solid leadership bench. Leadership development can be useful for team members regardless of their position on the org chart. Put simply, leadership coaching isn’t just for leaders. Learning the fundamentals of leadership and how teams can operate effectively provides value for any team member, allowing your entire organization to maximize its potential.

What is a leadership development program?

A leadership development program is designed to provide professional growth and guidance for leaders, leaders-in-training, and any team member with untapped potential. It is an invaluable tool for enriching team members’ core capabilities and strengthening the qualities that make good teams.

Practically any team member can benefit from a leadership development program, whether that is in the form of leadership coaching, mentoring, or another form of personalized development. The benefits of coaching and mentorships are not limited to the C-suite, especially when you consider that today’s junior associate may someday become a company leader or that many organizations are forgoing the traditional tiered leadership model in favor of a flatter org chart.

In the past, traditional leadership development programs focused on top-down leadership models, but those static models no longer apply. Today’s business organizations benefit from empowering team members at all levels with leadership development programs that leverage coaching.

The most advantageous aspect of leadership coaching is that it is appropriate for companies of all sizes. Small businesses or start-ups will benefit in the long run from having team members trained in the art of leadership who are ready to step up. Larger companies will benefit immediately, as team members whose capabilities have been honed through coaching go on to become greater advocates for company values and better employees overall.

Read our whitepaper for more practical guidance on building a leadership development program, especially for a multi-generational workforce.

Types of leadership development programs

1:1 Leadership coaching

This program is exactly what it sounds like: a regular session between a coach and a team member. It focuses on capabilities aligned to your desired business outcomes, building on an individual’s strengths to unlock their leadership potential.

1:1 leadership coaching involves one coach and one team member, with the coach’s time dedicated to improving the capabilities of the specific team member in a focused manner. The coach will set a goal, monitor the team member’s progress toward that goal, focus on positive aspects of the team member’s approach, and keep track of how the team member applies their learnings to achieve their goals.   

The coach will employ various coaching methods to the task, tailoring their approach to the needs of the individual, and can adjust as the individual’s approach changes. The goal is to maximize the individual’s skills and broaden their capabilities, allowing them to become the most effective and actualized version of themselves.

The impact of one-on-one leadership coaching can be dramatic, especially when scaled across the organization. Team members who participate in 1:1 coaching can become key leaders, unlocking the potential of other team members in turn and advocating for the collective. 1:1 coaching is also perfectly suited for remote workers, as the singular nature of the connection translates well across digital meeting spaces.

Group coaching

Group coaching is a learning tactic designed to promote lasting change, new knowledge acquisition, and immediate organizational impact. Focusing on multiple team members simultaneously, group leadership coaching helps build cohesion in a business unit and promotes healthy learning. 

Traditional methods of training are easily forgotten, whereas group leadership coaching is an interactive experience that promotes engagement and collaboration, modeling activities on desired outcomes. Also called peer group coaching, group leadership coaching is designed to focus on a specific purpose or goal.

The coach will facilitate discussions and manage structured activities, running the group through exercises designed around various leadership challenges. The goal is to expose the group to different viewpoints and provide opportunities to build relationships, capabilities, and the ability to work as a team. These learnings can then be leveraged across multiple business use cases, providing lasting impact throughout a group member’s career. 

Group leadership coaching requires very little — if any — specialized tools or equipment, merely a set amount of time and a dedicated group. The benefits are myriad: increased empathy, improved idea diversity, and encouragement of group-based problem-solving. 

On the whole, group coaching is an effective tool for fostering change and advancing positive group dynamics across work groups. 


While mentorships carry some similarities with coaching, it defers in several key aspects. 

A mentorships is a relationship between two professionals – a mentor and mentee – where the mentor shares their experience and provides guidance, advice, and their point of view within a specific organization or industry, or on how a mentor or leader can position themselves down a career path to reach different levels of leadership or influence.


Dedicated leadership development platform

A dedicated leadership platform allows companies to focus on a specific toolset and track multiple coaching programs across entire teams. Whether you are conducting 1:1 coaching sessions, group leadership coaching, or all of the above, a dedicated platform will help you scale your efforts and measure your success. In this manner, you don’t need to “wait and see” if the next generation of leaders are ready for your company when they’re needed, and can instead take a more active role in their development.

An integrated platform that tracks data across different programs and allows you to clearly set goals and measure progress will encourage team members to take part in leadership coaching programs and reward them for doing so. By eliminating administrative oversight and making key metrics readily available, it can instantly make the intangible tangible and show the value of your initiative.

If you’d like to learn more about how the right leadership coaching platform can help prepare your business for success today, tomorrow, and years down the line, we’re ready to help. Set up a demo to speak with a Sounding Board representative today.

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