Leadership Training 101 for Supervisors and Managers—Getting Started


Start at the Top

The task to begin finding and implementing leadership training for your supervisors and managers may not be as daunting as some would have you believe—unless the initiative came from anyone other than your president, general manager, or CEO. This is critical because before you begin any training program, you need to start by understanding the business reasons why you are doing so.

Leadership Training for Supervisors and Managers Must Drive Results

Whether you are considering adding leadership training or not, consider sharing these facts with your boss:

  • A University of North Texas study found that companies that train their managers and supervisors show a productivity increase of 21%.
  • A Bloomberg Businessweek workforce study reflects a 300% decrease in turnover when companies train their frontline leaders.
  • A Gallup poll of more than one million workers cites that the number one reason people leave their job is because of their immediate supervisor or manager.

Before Starting Leadership Development, You Must Ask Seven Key Questions

  1. Why do we need to develop leadership skills in our supervisors and managers?
  2. What challenges are we experiencing that leadership training will fix?
  3. What impact will it have on the business?
  4. How might it positively affect productivity?
  5. Will our company be more profitable after training our supervisors and managers?
  6. What do you want people to know, do, or feel differently as a result of this training?
  7. How will we measure its success?

Provided your president/CEO and their management team are on the same page with the answers to these questions, you can then successfully implement any training that is chosen. This process will be the hardest part, but if done correctly and thoroughly, it will make implementation and buy-in all the easier!

Key Leadership Competencies

Don’t waste your time and money on assessments. Some will disagree with me on this, especially those who sell and consult on the assessments themselves! The fact of the matter is, research has been done again and again when it comes to identifying the top competencies of leaders. Business Training Experts even did our own research with executives from over 500 organizations to confirm the results. We uncovered what everyone else has known over the years—the top competencies your managers and supervisors must have are:

  • Accountability & Responsibility
  • Positive Attitude
  • Change Management
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Empowerment
  • Motivating Oneself & Others
  • Professionalism
  • Relationship Building
  • Teamwork
  • Trust and Integrity

Which of Those Competencies Can Your Supervisors and Managers Skip?

To help you understand why assessments may be a waste of time and money, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Which of those competencies do I NOT want my managers and supervisors to have?
  2. If a leader reaches a certain proficiency level in a competency, will it not add value to my organization if they continue to improve? During learning, can a proficient leader not add insights, best practices, and provide value to others who may not be as proficient at a particular skill set?

As one very experienced executive recently told me, “What you guys call them may have changed a little, but the underlying skills my leaders need are the same as they were 50 years ago, and they’ll be the same 50 years from today.”

Competencies Remain Consistent

Do these competencies vary from organization to organization? Not really. If they do, it is because of a competency that is more technical in nature or one that may be specific to that job. When it comes to the fundamental “soft skills” or people skills, these make up the essential foundation for building leadership skills in your formal and informal leaders.

Promotions Are Based on Hard Skills

Most organizations have managers who are promoted based on their job or technical skills but rarely receive any training on how to be a good manager or supervise others. I am always impressed with organizations that recognize this and prepare their future supervisors and managers before they step up into a leadership role.

Keep Employees on the Job

More than ever, companies are sensitive to having employees away from their productive tasks for too long during training. Search for training that is short and concise, but still gives you practical skills for growth. Seminars and 3-hour workshops have proven to be ineffective for two reasons: One, up to 90% of what the participant learned is forgotten within 30 days, primarily due to a lack of reinforcement. Two, much of the training that takes place today tends to be a data dump, and little time is given to the participant to process and apply what they have learned.

Get Started!

With answers to the above questions and the list of competencies, you have a foundation upon which to either build a leadership program or explore off-the-shelf training materials, which usually require less time and a smaller investment. Evaluate your options by trying courses from the curricula you are considering to make sure they are a good fit for your supervisors and managers. There are countless companies ready to help you. Good luck!

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Categories: Leadership, Learning & Development, Management, Supervisory
Scott Ulberg, Founder and President, Business Training Experts

Author: Scott Ulberg, Founder and President, Business Training Experts

Scott Ulberg is a leadership training expert. He’s dedicated over 20 years to turning supervisors and managers into high-performing leaders that positively impact their teams and organizations. High-performing leaders manage happy and engaged employees who love their work and give 110% every day, driving productivity and company performance. Scott believes in developing practical how-to leadership skills through real-world application. The companies he works with experience significant improvements, such as an 18% increase in productivity, a 15% increase in team member engagement, and a 10% reduction in turnover.