Developing Leaders by Focusing on the Right Skills and Providing Training That Sticks

Leadership is foundational to building a successful company. After all, companies of all kinds rely on people to get the work done, to serve customers, and to drive productivity and success. Those people need strong leaders to provide them with goals, direction, feedback, coaching, and hold them accountable.

Unfortunately, too often leadership skills are taken for granted or overlooked entirely.

leadership quote

Managers and supervisors are often promoted into leadership positions based on their job and technical skills, rather than leadership potential.  They may lack the background, experience, knowledge, and training needed to be successful. 

You can be proactive in developing strong leaders by offering a leadership training program that ensures they will both learn and apply core leadership competencies. 

What You Should Teach Your Leaders 

To be effective, your leaders—whether new or seasoned—need to have a solid foundation of core skills required to be successful in their role. Leaders need to:

  • Have effective communication skills, including listening, speaking, and body language.
  • Provide clear instructions and feedback.
  • Manage change. 
  • Resolve conflict.
  • Delegate effectively.
  • Hold themselves and others accountable. 
  • Empower and motivate for maximum engagement. 
  • Exhibit professionalism.
  • Build trusting relations both inside and outside the organization.
list of results of effective leaders

Effective leaders will yield big results for your company. They’ll build a strong team of engaged and loyal employees to help stem turnover and reduce the costs related to hiring and onboarding new employees. They’ll organize and coordinate work to maximize productivity and drive down costs. 

They’ll offer counsel and course correction when things don’t go as planned, or employees need new, different or more direction. And they’ll maintain a strong focus on the customer and service to both employees and customers to boost the bottom line.

In short, they’ll need a wide range of solid leadership skills that will set the stage for their—and your company’s—success.  But here we take a look at some of the most critical skills and competencies that today’s leaders need.

The Ability to Innovate Instead of Micromanaging 

When leaders come into their role they may be tempted to fall back into the behaviors that led to their success. But leaders need to be focused on getting work done through others and not on doing it themselves.

Their role should be focused on innovation and improvement and not micromanaging the work of their employees.

Micromanagement is a waste of leaders’ time and a demotivating factor for most employees. It demonstrates a lack of trust in the ability of team members, as well as a lack of confidence in their own leadership abilities.  

A Focus on Authenticity  

Effective leaders are authentic. Their staff members trust them and feel confident turning to them for advice, information, and feedback. They mean what they say, and say what they mean. 

They create a culture of transparency and are comfortable sharing their own experiences, even experiences when they have been challenged—even unsuccessful. They’re not afraid to show their human side and their employees respect them for that.  

A Commitment to Using Praise and Encouragement 

Employees thrive when provided with praise and encouragement. Successful leaders know how to offer specific praise and encouragement that lets employees know exactly what they’re doing to contribute to the department and the organization’s success. 

Thanking employees for their hard work, recognizing and rewarding those who go above and beyond help to make employees feel cared for.

Leaders who use praise and encouragement effectively create a culture and climate that boosts engagement and productivity.

The Ability to Be Fair and Understanding 

Effective leaders make an effort to ensure that they are fair and understanding with all employees. Their actions support equity and balance, avoiding the appearance of favoritism or, on the flip side, scapegoating. 

Employees want to know that they will have the ability to be heard, especially during times of conflict or change, and that their leaders will listen openly to their input, opinions, and concerns before making decisions.  

An Emphasis on Building Drive 

Effective leaders have a strong work ethic and take steps to develop that same hard-working work ethic and drive among their employees. Employees look to their leaders to set the example and serve as a model for the types of behaviors they wish to see.

core skills of an effective leader

How To Develop Leaders 

There are a variety of things that organizations can do to help develop leaders. Providing a wide array of opportunities and experiences for leaders to both learn and apply what they’ve learned helps them build the skills they need to succeed.    

Create Coaching and Mentoring Opportunities 

Leaders can learn from others—and from coaching others. Creating opportunities for leaders to mentor, and be mentored by others, exposes them to new ideas and ways of approaching and solving problems.

Offer Opportunities for Peer Development 

Leaders have different skills, competencies, and areas of expertise. Offering opportunities for peer development allows them to share what they know and provides learning opportunities for others.

Provide Opportunities for Leadership Development 

Giving potential and new leaders opportunities for leadership development by assigning them to lead projects and task forces, or to take on new assignments. This is a great way to give them real-world exposure to the issues and challenges that leaders face.

Develop Your High Potential Employees 

As you identify employees with high potential, they can be groomed for future leadership positions. Beginning leadership development early helps to build a strong bench of potential leaders as new opportunities emerge.  

Invest in Leadership Training for All Levels of Leadership 

Finally, investing in training for future, new and seasoned leaders will yield big benefits. It offers the opportunity for them to learn from leadership experts, to interact with each other to share best practices and to practice and apply what they’ve learned. 

Through The Leadership Journey, leaders will develop and implement action plans and be accountable for completing those action plans and achieving results.

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Categories: Communication, Leadership
Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Author: Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Lin is a business journalist and communication strategist with expertise in HR and employee relations. She is accredited through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP) and Human Resource Certification Institute (SPHR) and writes frequently for SHRM, HR Daily Advisor, and a wide range of trade publications and corporate clients.