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What Are Executive Development Programs?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Executive development programs are business training courses that assist in the development of leadership and management skills in employees. In some cases, executive development programs are used by companies to train those who are considered to be potential executive or management material. In other cases, executive development programs are sponsored by business schools that offer short-term training programs to business managers and executives who want to improve their leadership skills or concentrate on some other area of business knowledge or practice. Depending on the source of the training, these programs may be completed over a few weeks or may last several months.

Many companies recognize the need for structured training programs for those who may have the potential to become company leaders. These programs not only train these workers in solid business and management principles, but also give the company an opportunity to evaluate each management or executive candidate closely. In some cases, a company may place new hires who have recently graduated from college or university in these programs, although current employees who show promise may also be enrolled in executive development programs as well. Company-sponsored programs vary in content, but often combine theoretical training, either online or in a classroom, with actual work experience. Program participants may be expected to work in several different locations as part of program training.

Executive development programs help individuals improve their leadership skills.
Executive development programs help individuals improve their leadership skills.

Programs developed and sponsored by business schools operate very differently from company training programs. These executive development programs represent continuing education for business professionals who have already proved their management abilities and who already hold positions of significant responsibility within their organizations. Professionals who are concerned about deficiencies in their performance or knowledge may decide to participate in a development program so as to improve their abilities. Some companies may also specifically ask staff members to participate in generic executive development programs as part of an ongoing interest in the development of high-level employees.

Each business school executive development program is structured differently, though some programs may be more flexible than others. As they are geared toward working managers and executives, they are often short-term, intensive programs that last a few weeks at the most. The cost is often significant, particularly at major business schools, but these costs often include room and board during the program. In addition to classes in leadership and management, participants may also receive postgraduate-level training in various business topics, such as finance and marketing, as part of the program.

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    • Executive development programs help individuals improve their leadership skills.
      By: Adam Gregor
      Executive development programs help individuals improve their leadership skills.