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  • Department of Global Development

LeadNY Executive Director Larry Van De Valk reflects on the value of leadership development and professional training as the 35 year old program recruits its 19th class. LeadNY is for committed leaders in the agriculture and food industries who wish to step up and make a difference in their community.

In recent weeks, I’ve been writing a lot of letters to business and other organizational leaders to encourage them to have employees apply for admission to LeadNY's Class 19. Once in a while, I’ll have a business owner respond with “We can’t afford that” or “We can’t afford to lose our staff member for that many days in a year”. As I’ve done my homework for each of these letters (looking at company or organization web pages), I am constantly reminded of how the investment in leadership development pays dividends to the organizations that send us their high-potential staff for further development. I can’t help but notice that it is often LeadNY alumni leading the organization (e.g. in an executive director role), chairing a board or committee, or the fact that more than half of the board members in some organizations are LeadNY alumni! Clearly, the people we train are stepping up to serve in these leadership roles. Many of these organizations do understand the benefit of investing in future leaders. 

Beyond these anecdotes, there’s data to support the assertion that investment in training pays dividends to the sponsoring company or organization. Andy Drennan, Senior Vice President at the Food Processing Suppliers Association, offered the following evidence in a November 2020 issue of Food Processing magazine (sources include LinkedIn Learning, McKinsey, PwC, Deloitte and other human resource authorities): 

  • 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development
  • 76% of employees are looking for career growth opportunities, and investments in training may help keep them motivated and inspired to work harder and be better at their job
  • 40% of employees leave their job within the first year unless they receive training and education from their employer
  • 74% of employees feel they are not reaching their full potential unless they receive training from their employer
  • 87% of Millennials state that having access to professional development and education is very important to their decision of whether to stay or seek employment elsewhere. 

You know that hiring and on-boarding a new employee costs your business a lot of time, energy and money. Losing them after a year or two and then repeating the process costs a lot more. On the other hand, investment in training can have other positive effects on your bottom line:

  • Companies that proactively offer learning and development opportunities can have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training; and they can have 24% higher profit margins
  • Companies that invest in next generation leaders are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets. 

I know that some of these statistics may sound like they only apply to the corporate world, but I have seen similar effects play out in small businesses and non-profit organizations many times. If you have good people on your team – and you want to keep them – then show them you value them by investing a little time and money into their continued development. And of course, LeadNY is one of the best places for you to make that investment! Encourage that key employee to apply today, and let them know that you will support them in their participation. I’m confident you are going to see a great return on that investment. 

Applications are now being accepted for LeadNY's Class 19 and are due June 1, 2021.

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