Companies that want to succeed in any industry, regardless of size, need to have effective leaders who can successfully coach and counsel their employees to be engaged and productive. They know this and yet many companies struggle to provide their current and emerging leaders with the training support they need.
Not all leaders are created equal. Some come to the role with a lot of experience and skills. Others have no experience and significant gaps in the competencies they have, compared to what they will need to excel in a leadership role.
Organizations get work done through people. The larger the organization the more challenging it can be to provide effective leadership consistently. Unfortunately, leadership competencies can’t be left to chance. Leaders—whether new or experienced—need to know what’s required of them to succeed as they lead their teams in pursuit of the company’s goals.
The impacts of poor leadership can be significant. Having the right kind of training in place can make a difference.
What are the Traits of a Strong Leader?
There are a number of traits and competencies that strong leaders must have. Many, unfortunately, don’t come into leadership roles with these competencies already developed. You shouldn’t expect them to.
Employees are often promoted into leadership roles because of the skills they exhibited as independent contributors. They may not have the knowledge and experience required to hit the ground running in new leadership roles.
Leaders—whether new or experienced—need to have core competencies that include strong communication skills, the ability to successfully resolve conflicts, the ability to motivate others to achieve goals and objectives, a focus on accountability and comfort with taking an ownership role, and the ability to nurture teamwork among their direct reports.
Chances are your leaders, even those with years of experience, don’t have all of the competencies required to be successful and may have gaps that training can help to fill. New leaders and those in the wings who are ready to move into leadership roles present a great opportunity to provide them with the skills and competencies needed to be effective.
Why Should You Develop Leaders
When companies have strong leaders they pave the way for effectiveness and efficiency in achieving goals and objectives. Leaders are responsible for successfully working through others to accomplish positive outcomes.
Good leadership drives motivation, employee engagement, and productivity—directly contributing to a positive bottom line.
Unfortunately, employers are experiencing a significant, and growing leadership gap. In fact, a startling 77% of companies today say they have a leadership gap, according to the Brandon Hall Group. Their need for leaders is far outpacing the number of leaders available—especially experienced leaders.
1. Target Your High-Potential Employees
Not all employees are interested in moving into leadership positions, of course. And even some of those who are may lack the potential to be successful in leadership roles.
In fact, according to Training Magazine, Gallup indicates that only “18% of current managers have the talent required to do their role well.” It’s important for organizations to think carefully about the competencies they need in effective leaders and to target their high potential employees—tapping them to participate in leadership development training.
Part of what contributes to this lack of leadership skill is the tendency for organizations to promote top performers into leadership roles. But being a top performer in a specific job doesn’t necessarily translate into leadership effectiveness.
2. Start Mentorship and Coaching Programs
The skilled leaders you have on your team can be a great source of seasoned mentors to help coach high potentials and new leaders.
The discussions that take place during The Leadership Journey™ often accomplish this in a more relaxed setting than a formal mentorship program. As participants share new ideas and past experiences they have an opportunity to learn from their classmates as well as from each other. It’s a great way to spark conversation in peer-to-peer mentoring sessions.
These interactions also help to build cross-departmental relationships which are critical to high performance across the organization.
3. Communicate the Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategic Objectives
Effective leaders are appropriately aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. They need to believe in and support these critical elements of the corporate culture.
It’s important to communicate often with leaders about your mission, vision, and values—and to make sure they understand your strategic objectives and how their efforts can help the company succeed. They, in turn, share this information with their direct reports, creating a ripple effect that helps ensure that everybody is moving in the same direction.
Your goals and objectives should be shared with leaders early and often. If they don’t know where you’re going, they and their teams can’t possibly help you get there!
4. Provide Leaders Opportunities for Interaction and Support
One effective way to give leaders important exposure to the organization is through job rotation. But the use of job rotations is most common at the senior executive level. In most organizations, another way to provide similar benefits to new and emerging leaders is to offer opportunities for interaction and the sharing of best practices.
The Leadership Journey provides these opportunities. After learning each new skill, and applying them back on the job, supervisors come back together to discuss and share their experiences.
These interactions help them better understand the organization and what it does and also help to build relationships and shared understanding between departments. That can come into play in important ways when there are conflicts between employees and others they work with.
Shared understanding can lead to better solutions. But solutions are hard to achieve if solid relationships don’t exist.
5. Begin Leadership Development Early
Early leadership development is effective leadership development. Rather than waiting for an employee to move into a leadership role—especially if they haven’t been in one previously—providing them with leadership experiences and training can help prepare them for future opportunities.
It can also help your organization determine which employees seem to be best suited for higher-level roles, offering a testing ground to see who is ready to move into a supervisory or leadership role.
The Leadership Journey provides an opportunity to do just that. The brief modules provide insights into core leadership competencies that are reinforced as training teams come together to discuss what they’re learned.
This is where sharing of best practices, coaching, and mentorship can come into play for current and potential future leaders.