The Basics of Leadership Development
What is leadership Development?
Leadership development is the process of nurturing leadership skills in people. Easy enough.
But what do we mean by leadership skills? We’re talking about skills many employers seek out but aren’t always sure how to train. For example:
- Emotional intelligence
- Decision making
- Problem solving
Leadership development programs help your employees harness their strengths and transform them into even stronger assets. It opens new doors for the future, boosts confidence, and helps your company prepare for the future.
Although we know how important good leadership is, only 48% of businesses rate their own as “high quality.” What’s more, only 10% of people are born natural leaders. That may sound bleak, but actually, it’s a great thing. It means that leadership development programs aren’t for the gifted few — they’re for everyone to grow and improve.
What Should You Look for in a Leadership Development Program?
Every company has its own leadership structure, and its own needs. The most crucial element when designing or adopting a leadership development program is personalization.
One of the biggest reasons leadership programs fail is that they aren’t adapted to a company’s position; even though people learn skills theoretically, they don’t learn how to apply them contextually.
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Rather than teaching people a fixed methodology, it’s important to identify their strengths, and teach them how to apply them as leaders.
Before implementing a program, ask yourself:
- Who are we specifically looking to train right now?
- What are our goals for training them?
- What challenges are people likely to face in the future?
- What skill sets and resources will be the most valuable to us?
For example, let’s say your company wants to grow, but it has a tight budget. It can’t afford new hires, but it needs to expand if it’s going to ever be able to afford them.
You have your challenge. Now, you need to focus on leadership. Where would it be most effective in this scenario?
Probably sales and marketing. New client acquisition would help your company grow, while optimizing your current resources and talent. You can expand your revenue without compromising your profitability.
Tl;Dr: You have to know your business’s challenges before you can develop the right leaders to meet them.
Focus on Soft Skills
It turns out that teaching people how to use a program is a lot easier than teaching them how to be empathetic.
Soft skills are the future of work, and they’re essential for good leadership. It’s important that organizations identify where their greatest talent needs to brush up on soft skills. They may need training in communication, teamwork, or adaptability.
In tech, finance, and other logistics-heavy industries, creativity is often overlooked. This soft skill actually helps people come up with new ideas and look at problems from new perspectives. Being creative isn’t just about designing new things — it’s understanding how to see anything from new vantage points.
Make a list of the top 5 soft skills your business’s leadership needs. Concentrate on nurturing those first. They support the success of everything else.
Personalize Your Training
Leadership development has to speak directly to each individual while respecting the needs of your business.
Personalized learning through an LXP platform can help you align company objectives with personal goals.
What really matters is creating an environment that people feel excited to learn in. Leaders-in-the-making have to be motivated by what they’re being taught. It’s only with incentive and inspiration that they’ll internalize what they see, and turn it into a part of their daily performance.
How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace
To recap, leadership development programs can benefit companies of any size, and workers at any level. What matters most is that they’re tailored to your organization’s needs, and respect each person’s strengths and goals.
Before you dive into leadership development, make a list of objectives and needs. Set a course that has measurable benchmarks, so you can continue to coach people along their journeys.
The best way to develop leadership in the workplace is to always be flexible. Create opportunities for people to apply what they’re learning, and use professional development as a chance to create new leadership roles within your current positions.