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Career Catalyst: Invite Ambition

Career Catalyst: Invite Ambition

Ever since coming into academia from the private sector, I have observed a shift in the thinking of our college students when it comes to their professional careers. Gone are the days of just getting a job after graduation in order to pay bills. College graduates are more focused than ever on securing a “career,” one where they will continuously be trained, developed and mentored in an effort to further cultivate a high level of leadership throughout their entire professional lives. As we continue to observe our economy improving over the past couple of years, so, too, has the job market. As the job market improves, we see an increase in competitiveness between companies to attract and retain talent. Those companies who offer “careers” versus those who offer “jobs” will win the war of talent more times than not. The importance of creating a leadership program within your organization for your younger employee base becomes very important if one of your goals is creating future leadership and a succession plan within your company.


To help you start thinking of what a Leadership Development Program would look like at your organization, I have taken excerpts from our “GBCS Guide to Graduate Business Internships & LDPs” and shared them with you below. This guide is a document that I co-authored recently in an effort to educate companies on how to execute an internship program and LDP. It offers a great starting point for developing a Leadership Development Program of your own.




Have you thought about who will lead your organization in five years? How about 15 years? If several of your senior leaders retired tomorrow, could your mid-level managers step in and lead effectively? Decades ago, these questions and concerns prompted the development of an innovative solution: the Leadership Development Program (LDP). Over the last 50 years, companies of all sizes have begun to adopt this model as it “invites ambition” in future business leaders.


What is a Leadership Development Program?

A Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a full-time career program designed for new hires and interns who have the potential and ambition to become the future leaders of your organization. LDPs are typically two years in length and offer participants the opportunity to rotate through various teams, locations and functional assignments. LDPs can also be extended to include internship programs as the first stage in the talent acquisition and career development process.


What are the benefits of an LDP?


Accelerated Professional Growth

LDPs give participants valuable exposure to different parts of your business. This type of program attracts the top talent for your company, as it provides a wide range of experiences in a relatively short amount of time. Through these experiences, participants will gain both an extensive knowledge base and a broad personal network that will help them succeed. LDPs give you the option to match high potential middle managers with an incoming class of LDP employees. These mentor-trainee relationships will provide important leadership and skill-building opportunities for both employee groups.


Career Path Development

LDPs will allow you to quickly identify employees’ top strengths as you evaluate participants in a variety of settings. After completion of the program, you can direct graduates down the path that is the most beneficial for them and for your company. LDPs are investments in human capital that will help participants feel valued. This investment will build employees’ long-term commitment to your organization’s mission.


Effective Training Model

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Through LDPs, companies affirm their commitment to development opportunities. In fact, the nature of the LDP program is a natural fit for intensive, classroom-style training in leadership efficacy and essential processes that are unique to your business. Launching an LDP will allow your company to demonstrate its commitment to providing top-quality development opportunities for high performing employees.


Does leadership development actually work?

According to Forbes, definitely. Specifically, effective development programs have been proven to significantly increase leadership skills in tangible, measurable ways. In a recent study from consulting firm Zenger Folkman, leadership development training was provided to a set of leaders ranked between the 10th and 60th percentiles among their peers. Eighteen months later, these leaders were assessed using the same measurement criteria as before the training. Over 70 percent of participants showed significant improvement in their percentile ranking, often improving by up to 30 percentage points!

Impressively, this study included experienced leaders who, by some accounts, may have been considered “set in their ways.” Accordingly, the potential for rapid advancement among newly hired, talented managers is limitless! An effectively structured LDP will not only increase the continued success of participants, it will also create a pipeline of talent for your company for years to come.


If you are looking to “invite ambition” and ensure future success for your company, then start from the bottom up by developing your young talent into future leaders. They are seeking a career at your company, not just a job.



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