Staying competitive and relevant in today’s business landscape has become a topmost priority for organisations, and continuous learning plays a significant role in any successful business transformation strategy. Organisations must constantly engage in workforce development to foster an innovative and agile culture that allows them to respond swiftly to industry disruptions, new technologies and changing business conditions. A skilled and motivated workforce is critical for staying relevant and competitive in today’s business. Learning and Development professionals are crucial in developing training initiatives to empower the employees.


Training initiatives are plans and structured efforts to develop and improve the skills and capabilities of the workforce in an organisation. These interventions keep employees up to date with the latest skills needed to perform optimally in this fast-paced business environment and enhance the organisation’s overall performance.


Leadership buy-in refers to the support, commitment, and endorsement of organisational leaders, typically senior executives and top management, for a particular initiative, project, strategy, or decision. It signifies that these leaders are aware of the training initiative and actively support and believe in its importance and potential benefits for the organisation.


Leaders who are actively engaged and understand the value of these training interventions to the organisation are likely to invest their time, resources, and influence to ensure the success of the training programs.


Why do L&D professionals struggle to get Leadership Buy-in?

Leadership buy-in has been a tremendous challenge in the L&D industry. Learning and development professionals have struggled to showcase the benefits of their training programs and the return on investment (ROI), and they are under constant scrutiny by leaders and stakeholders. Without a comprehensive understanding of the impact of training initiatives, securing the necessary resources for the success of any training initiative becomes challenging.


Getting Leadership buy-in is crucial for the success of any training initiative. L& D professionals who can deliver a compelling business case demonstrating the value of training initiatives can get Leadership commitment and buy-in for their interventions. Leaders who understand how training programs contribute to the organisation’s strategic goals invest their resources to equip staff to function optimally.


However, getting Leadership buy-in can be very challenging for  L&D professionals for the following reasons.

  1. Determining return on investment (ROI) — One of the biggest challenges when gaining senior leadership buy-in is proving training ROI. A study by the ROI Institute, Inc. suggests that only 8% of organisations can demonstrate the business impact of their learning initiatives. Leaders may hesitate to invest in training when measuring uncertain or complex outcomes. Organisations can determine the ROI of a training program through improvements in employees’ behaviour, productivity, or engagement.
  2. Misalignment with Strategic Goals: Every training intervention must seek to build the skills and capabilities of employees to deliver on the company’s strategic goals. Research has found that many L&D functions fall short of this. Only 40% of companies say that their learning strategy is aligned with business goals; the remaining 60% say that learning has no explicit connection to the company’s strategic objectives. When training initiatives are not aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives, it becomes challenging to justify their importance and to get leadership buy-in.
  3. Budget and time constraints — Organisations often have multiple competing priorities, many cramping for financial attention. In financially tight situations, leaders might prioritise spending on areas they perceive as more critical, such as marketing, sales, or operations. This makes it difficult to allocate funds for training, especially when they cannot assess the short-term benefit of the training program.
  4. Training as an Expense: One of the most prevalent difficulties L&D professionals confront is the perception of training as a cost rather than an investment by most organisations. According to a study by Training Industry, Inc., in 2020, 63% of organisations viewed training as a cost, not an investment. Many leaders are, therefore, biased toward initiatives they believe have more tangible returns.


How, then, can you secure leadership buy-in for training initiatives?

Demonstrating the value of the training initiative is very important to the success of any training program. By presenting a compelling case, aligning with organisational goals, and maintaining open lines of communication, L&D professionals can increase the likelihood of securing leadership buy-in for your training initiatives. The following highlights some ways to ensure Leadership buy-ins for Training Initiatives.


  1. Start with a Needs Assessment: Before convincing Leadership to invest in training, you must show them it’s necessary. A thorough needs assessment must be conducted to identify the skills gaps within your organisation and how the training can address those gaps. Having data and evidence to support the need for training can make a compelling case for Leadership.
  2. Align with Organisational Goals: Identify how the training initiative aligns with the organisational goals and objectives. Show that it is not a standalone effort but an integral part of the company’s long-term success; this will help Leadership understand the importance of the training program and how it can contribute to the organisation’s overall success. The timing of this should also align with the company’s strategy planning exercise so that the training strategy is not treated in isolation.
  3. Quantify the Benefits: Gaining leadership buy-in will require projecting and measuring the return on investment of training initiatives. This will include using data and metrics to quantify the program’s benefits. ROI is a key performance indicator that helps leaders determine the profitability of a training investment. This could include increased productivity, improved employee retention, or better customer satisfaction. By demonstrating the ROI of the training program, L&D professionals can help Leadership understand the value of investing in the training program.
  4. Get Buy-in from Key Stakeholders: Identify key stakeholders who can help you get buy-in from Leadership. This could include managers, HR professionals, or employees participating in similar training programs. By getting support from these stakeholders, you can build a case for the training program that is difficult for Leadership to ignore.
  5. Be Ready to Address Issues: L&D professionals must be prepared to respond to any issues or objections expressed by Leadership with regard to training initiatives. They should be able to justify how training initiatives can save the organisation cost, time and overall performance. A strong Business case can increase the likelihood of gaining the support and buy-in from Leadership.
  6. Showcase Success Stories: Sharing success stories of past training initiatives from other organisations or departments that have implemented similar training can help provide tangible evidence of the benefits of the training and help secure the needed buy-in from the Leadership.
  7. Find an Executive Sponsor: As a last resort, if all the above six steps fail, try to identify a leader passionate about the role of L&D and use them to help you make the case to other business leaders. If you get this right, it can seal the deal for the foreseeable future.


Training initiatives are crucial for employee growth and a company’s overall effectiveness. They are a desirable investment for any organisation aiming to improve performance and achieve long-term success. L&D practitioners must clearly illustrate the return on investment (ROI) and involve Leadership in the planning and decision-making process, making them feel more invested and supportive of the effort.


Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.) is a trusted Management Consulting firm with over three decades of experience, partnering with organisations to implement value-driven learning solutions across various sectors and industries. We support organisations with bespoke and on-demand training programs tailored to each industry’s unique requirements.


Furthermore, we enable organisations to capture and warehouse intellectual assets vital to the history, success and continuity of their businesses. We have achieved this through our Bespoke Content Digitisation services and Digital Learning Platforms.


Speak to one of our consultants via, and let us help you build a compelling business case for your L&D initiatives.


Written by:

Victoria Debrah

Business Consultant