And here's how you convince your Manager to do it...

Think it might be time to boost your leadership skills and grow as a leader? If so, you are not alone.

Professional development is notably important to younger workers — 50-65% of millennials are in their current job because of learning and career opportunities, according to What Millennials Want from Work — but is important to employees of all generations.

In a recent survey, we found that 50% of managers want to participate in a leadership development program in the near future.

We also know that it’s not easy to create space in your daily routine for learning, especially these days. And some managers may be hesitant to support investing time and resources in development right now, though research has found important reasons to invest in leadership development, even in a recession.

Perhaps most importantly, continuing to learn and develop are important for your growth as a person and a leader.

So, if you need help convincing your boss to invest in your development and career, here are 5 things you can say to encourage them to support you with leadership training.


1. “I’m doing a good job in my current role. Now is the perfect time to prepare for what’s next.”

People can always benefit from intensive leadership development work, but it’s especially important in certain situations. One key time to provide someone with training is when they are a high performer, eyeing the next step and on track for a promotion.

If you know that you are considered a high potential, are about to take on additional responsibilities, or are in line for a new role or different assignment, now is the time to prepare.

Be ready to support your story by sharing your accomplishments. Don’t allow impostor syndrome to stop you from doing a little bit of self-promotion that’s authentic, sincere, and grounded in facts and data.

Tell your boss you want to start thinking about the next-level challenges and figuring out what you need to learn and experience to be ready. It’s a known way to increase buy-in from high-potential talent such as yourself.


2. “I’m ready to tackle the big changes with new thinking.”

Change requires leaders who are able to learn and adapt. Leaders who can adjust course quickly have learning agility, and learning agility is what you need if you want to have a long career.

Effective leaders recognize when new behaviors, skills, or attitudes are needed, and accept responsibility for developing them. We often say that great leaders are great learners.

A tailored leadership program — not a “check-the-box” training, but an intensive, personalized leadership development experience — can give you a chance to pause and understand the shifting demands placed on you and your team. It can help you take time to identify how to become more effective in driving change — and to start to build new, needed competencies.

3. “I will make the most of my time while not focused on my ‘regular’ daily work.”

The #1 way people learn to lead is on the job. But to fully benefit from your day-to-day experiences, you need a plan and some space and time to encounter new ideas, new tools, and new people.

The right leadership training, whether an in-person program or an online leadership development training, will give you valuable content, but you won’t just passively listening to an expert talk. You’ll get interaction and conversation.

Plus, for information to stick, you’ll want to see how it applies to you and have a chance to “try on” new behaviors that will help you be effective back at work. A leadership program should give you dedicated time to address your goals and challenges, and is most effective when it includes options for supporting and extending the work after the course is over.

4. “Leadership development is an investment in my future — and a way to help me stay engaged in my work today.”

Leadership development is a way to learn what is needed to manage yourself (thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions) and to work with others (interpersonal skills, the ability to build and maintain relationships, the ability to build effective work groups, and communication skills, to name a few) — all while operating within the larger system. When you continually develop in these areas, you become more effective.

But boss support is crucial. Managerial support for your development as a leader can fuel engagement, energy, and a willingness to stay. Research shows all employees, at every level, want to gain new skills, add credentials, and boost their capabilities. If you’re doing a good job in your current role, your boss probably wants to keep you motivated, learning new things, and engaged.

5. “Leadership development is shown to have both personal and organizational impact.”

Investing in leadership impacts both the individual and the larger organization. At CCL, we’ve studied the impact of our programs on both, and it can make a real difference. You can learn leadership skills online and transform without travel. For example, evaluations of our online program for frontline leaders, which requires just 30 minutes a day, found that:

  • 90% of participants found Frontline Leader Impact easy to access and navigate; and
  • 99% of participants said the course had a positive impact on their leadership skills.

And clients tell us this digital learning initiative can help individuals minimize disruption and strengthen their skills, while at the same time improving employee engagement, retention, and organizational culture. (Show your boss our client case study about developing high-potential talent with virtual leadership training for more details and a real-life success story of this in action.)