Successful companies prioritize leadership development throughout all levels of the organization. These companies understand that developing leaders at all levels provides benefits for employees, not just executives. When leaders at the top leave your company, you have other leaders who are prepared to take over the roles.
Emphasizing leadership development throughout your workforce helps create a sustainable talent pipeline. This process helps employees stay engaged and invested in your company’s mission, vision, and values. As a result, you can continue to move your organization forward when executives move on to other opportunities.
The Value of Leadership Development Opportunities for Your Workforce
Characteristics of Effective Leaders
Effective leaders use their skills and abilities to help others become better. These leaders also ensure their impact continues even when they are not present.
Successful leaders lead from behind and put others in front. These leaders celebrate others’ accomplishments and provide constructive feedback for increased success.
Top leaders prioritize growing others. These leaders emphasize moving beyond an individual’s comfort zone and overcoming challenges for growth.
Elements of Leadership Skills
Leadership skills include the traits and abilities required to guide and influence individuals, teams, and companies toward a common goal. These skills and traits are typically driven by an individual’s soft skills and personality. As a result, core leadership skills differ among leaders.
Examples of Leadership Skills
A company’s goals impact the skills required of the organization’s leaders. Examples of leadership skills include:
- Thought leadership
- Setting direction
- Clarifying expectations
- Ethical practice
- Nurturing growth
Importance of Leadership Skills
Leadership skills are required for crucial tasks. These tasks help set goals and direction and turn strategy into action. The tasks also provide a focus for long-term activities and create a foundation to impact the bigger picture.
Leadership skills set the tone for the organization. These skills impact the company’s culture and clarify how employees at all levels should work and interact.
Leadership development is essential for succession planning. These skills support a range of essential business functions:
- Identify and fill skills gaps
- Transfer essential knowledge to new employees
- Replace experienced professionals with specialized skills
- Maintain staffing requirements to fulfill job duties and responsibilities
Importance of Contextual Leadership
Contextual leadership adapts to the changing work environment and organizational needs. Contextual leaders use individual and situational circumstances to determine how and when to lead, follow, and collaborate. These leaders provide employees with the information and resources required for their work and give them adequate freedom to make appropriate decisions.
Characteristics of contextual leadership include:
- Willingness to innovate and develop others
- Influence in any position
- Seek experience in different work and projects
- Consider the potential and performance of others
Employees at all levels can assume leadership duties at some point. For instance, employees can lead projects or other small groups with a common goal. Therefore, contextual leadership can be developed throughout an employee’s career. As a result, contextual leadership should be a priority within your organization.
Leadership Development and Your Workforce
Continuous leadership development helps bring out the best in your workforce. The following are three reasons why:
- Succession planning: Ongoing leadership development helps ensure productivity does not drop due to vacancies. You can move the right leaders into the right positions to maintain business operations.
- Continuous productivity: Having a workforce filled with clearly defined leadership skills helps fulfill business strategy. You can replace a departing leader with another leader who is qualified to help move the organization forward.
- Focus on company priorities: Effective leaders focus on strategy and reward employees for reaching milestones and goals.
Characteristics of Leadership Development
Capability and competency mapping show the level to which specific leadership skills meet your company’s standards. The results clarify whether an employee effectively demonstrates the leadership skills required for a role. This information helps determine whether an employee should be offered a promotion to replace a departing leader.
For instance, you might measure the level of influence a leader has with the following criteria:
- How well the individual customizes information for a specific audience
- How effectively the individual uses their interpersonal skills to persuade individuals with different priorities and perspectives
- How well the individual leverages relationships with senior leaders to gain buy-in and support for initiatives
- How effectively does the individual use networking to gain external support
Best Practices to Develop Leadership Skills
Focusing on what your employees want and need supports leadership development. Providing opportunities to develop the leadership skills that interest your employees and benefit your company lets everyone win.
Employees learn differently, attain success at different rates, and excel in different areas. As a result, you should offer day-to-day tasks to help develop leadership skills:
- Offer inclusive leadership development opportunities. Let employees advance to management roles that might not be in a linear path.
- Encourage employees to specialize in specific functions or areas. This specialization helps employees excel in specific areas, such as revenue drivers or product engineering.
- Emphasize the importance of developing others’ capabilities. For instance, specialists can be available to assist and support their direct reports, but they should let their employees work as independently as possible.
Provide employees with on-the-job training. Essential knowledge can be quickly and easily transferred while working:
- E-learning solutions provide on-demand access to short bursts of relevant information.
- Stretch assignments increase employee capabilities.
- Managers can provide constructive feedback to correct performance issues in real time.
- Senior leaders can provide coaching to increase confidence and performance.
- Mentors can regularly check in to monitor progress toward company goals.
Create a network of leadership roles within your organization. The benefits include:
- Providing constructive feedback and support to emerging leaders.
- Encouraging cross-functional collaboration to develop diverse skills through projects.
- Unifying key roles around business strategy.
- Gauging which emerging leaders meet your company’s leadership standards and which leaders require improvement in specific areas.
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