After reading this guide, you will understand how to improve leadership skills training in your organization, and get actionable tips for building a leadership development plan.
Leadership development is the process of improving leadership skills and competencies through various activities.
In leadership development, staff at all levels are taught the invaluable leadership skills that allow them to properly lead, inspire and guide their teams to success.
This type of development is important to properly cultivate a culture of leadership throughout an organization.
Leadership development training can take on many forms, both on-site, such as internal training and mentorship programs, and off-site, such as training seminars, conferences, online training, or graduate programs.
To effectively action leadership development, an organization should create a leadership development plan.
This plan will lay out the steps that the organization will take, what is expected of staff who undergo this development, and how the development will help both the organization and the staff.
Leadership development benefits an organization in a multitude of ways.
Including higher financial performance and more consistent achievement within departments guided by proficient leaders.
An organization with empowered leaders can navigate today’s complex business environment and solve problems quickly and effectively.
A workforce with effective leaders will be inspired to believe in, and work for, a greater vision.
Good leadership can inspire higher engagement from their staff and reduce turnover. A great leader will attract talented new employees and will be able to keep the ones that they have, which leads to better work satisfaction.
More than half of American workers are disengaged at work. Effective leadership that knows how to increase engagement within teams using purpose and recognition has been shown to increase profitability within an organization.
Good communication can make or break a company. If the leaders within a company make effective communication a priority, it leads to increases in productivity, better speed of execution of tasks, and a more positive organizational culture.
Customers will be more loyal when leaders are effective in engaging employees. Leading by example improves the customer experience.
Inhouse leadership development inspires loyalty from employees, as it shows that there are growth opportunities available for them. It is also cheaper, and requires less time, than finding, hiring and training leaders from outside.
A properly developed leadership development strategy is an invaluable tool for driving and achieving the organization’s business strategy. In taking the time to understand what your organization needs from its leaders, you will better understand the business strategy that will work best for you. These two strategies go hand-in-hand, developing one will help in achieving the other.
No matter the industry, every organization can benefit from developing leadership skills from within their organization and prioritizing leadership in their company culture.
For a leadership development program to be effective, there must be clear goals that are set at the beginning of the process. Some, or all, of the following goals can be used as a starting point.
A true leader owns their actions and the consequences of them, whether good or bad.
They are able to look at the outcomes of their decisions, and appreciate the lessons that both success and failure teach.
Employees notice if a manager never takes responsibility for their actions, or worse, pushes the responsibility for their failures onto their subordinates.
When making decisions, it can be tempting to make ones that benefit the individual, rather than the team or organization.
A good leader considers all options then chooses the one that is best for the company, rather than themselves. This practice involves shedding bias and developing integrity.
Sometimes leading means listening, rather than speaking.
Every member of a team has some valuable input and experience that they can share, and a good leader takes the time to create a space for discussion and actively listen to each person.
Leaders need to be well-rounded, with a wide array of skills in different areas of competence.
In taking the time to study fields that may be outside of their direct role, a leader will be better able to handle issues as they arise in a creative and agile fashion.
A leader is not going to be much use to anyone if they are consistently running behind on projects and don’t have enough time to actually lead.
In focusing on proper time management, a leader can make sure that they set a good example and are available for their team.
A key role of a leader is to foster leadership in others.
Being able to identify and develop those skills in team members is an important aspect of a leader’s job, and is essential in the development of a leadership culture within an organization.
This involves coaching, giving actionable and constructive feedback, and paying attention to how team members are approaching challenging projects.
A leader is only as effective as their communication.
Great ideas and active mentorship won’t go far if a leader’s communication style lets them down.
Developing communication skills takes time and effort and includes building rapport with team members, understanding how, and when, to use persuasion, and improving conflict management skills.
Leaders shouldn’t think small. Problem-solving and effective team management are dependent on a leader who can make decisions that will benefit the team not just immediately, but down the road as well.
Using these goals as a starting point will help an organization dial in on what is important, what changes need to be prioritized, and what kind of training will be most effective in developing the leadership that they would like to see within their organization.
So, how to improve leadership skills within your organization? You should start with a leadership development plan.
It is the roadmap of how your organization is going to nurture leadership skills in employees of all levels. It should cover goals that align with both strategic business needs and interpersonal, or more human, needs.
It should address the needs of leaders of all levels within the organization, both current leaders and those you wish to train for future leadership positions.
An example of a good leadership development plan is one that has followed the following steps:
First of all, you need to understand what type of leaders you need, what set of skills are most essential for your business, and will be valuable in the future.
To do so, it’s better to take a step back and review your key business objectives, if you don’t have a clear list, then it is time to make it.
Talk to the employees who will participate in this leadership development and try to align their career vision and path with your ideas and business path.
Having the same direction in development will affect final results dramatically.
As discussed above, leadership development goals are an important part of this strategy. Without clear goals, it will be hard to understand what to do and how effective your plan is.
The required qualities and skills of your organization’s leadership will determine the relevant leadership development goals.
There are many different methods that can be used for leadership development:
You can read more about ideas on how to develop leadership skills in this employee development article.
Some companies will develop these methods in house, while others bring in a third party company who specializes in this type of development, it’s up to you what to choose.
As mentioned the development plan must be measurable, otherwise, it will be impossible to quantify its success.
By using measurable goals, concrete criteria, feedback from employees, and data, your organization will be able to measure the success of the program and make adjustments where necessary.
Get more ideas from the Reviewing & Monitoring Results chapter of this employee development article.
Using these steps, your organization can create a leadership development plan template to follow. In doing so, a culture of leadership and positive development will be established, and beneficial results will follow.