The impact of strong leadership cannot be overstated. It serves as the decisive factor that sets apart thriving companies from those that face ongoing challenges and setbacks.
Exceptional leaders serve as unwavering guides for their organisations and teams, navigating the ever-changing landscape of business with resilience and adaptability. They deftly manage both the intricacies of day-to-day operations and the challenges posed by significant crises.
Effective leaders embrace responsibility for all vital facets of the business, offering clear direction, making tough decisions and igniting a sense of inspiration within their teams to accomplish extraordinary outcomes. Throughout this journey, they ensure that every individual and aspect of their organisation receives the optimal level of support, attending to the needs of both employees and the overarching business objectives.
However, not all great leaders are “natural-born”. Even those who are referred to as “natural-born leaders” actively focus on developing their skills throughout their careers. It’s easy to think that only CEOs and others in upper management need leadership skills, but that’s not the case.
According to Lightcast, a labour market analytics firm, leadership skills are the most in-demand skills in the US labour market, accounting for 43% of the total US market labour demand from 2015 to 2022. Ultimately, to remain competitive in the business landscape, organisations must proactively grow leaders at all levels.
By making leadership development practices a core value, organisations of all sizes and in all industries can give current and future leaders the tools and skills they need. Employees who are flying under the radar right now may be the ones who become thriving leaders that drive the organisation forward, even in uncertain periods.
What is Leadership Development?
Leadership development is a process or strategy designed to help increase a person’s ability to lead successfully. Leadership development programmes focus on core competencies, such as team development, strategic leadership, self-management, communication skills, collaboration, building trust, change management, inclusive leadership and business execution.
The process involves identifying potential leaders, assessing their abilities, and providing them with the necessary training, mentoring and coaching needed to become effective leaders.
Enhancing leadership abilities in an organisation takes intention, education, and conducting activities and exercises that stretch current leaders. It ultimately prepares leaders at all levels of the organisation to be the best leader possible.
Why Leadership Development is important: The leadership gap
Over the past several decades, the benchmark for strong leadership has evolved to focus on soft skills, like empathy and collaboration. However, leaders must pair these competencies with the hard skills required for organisational leadership.
Even as traditional leadership training becomes less common, many organisations and industries struggle with a leadership gap, which refers to an organisation’s shortage or deficiency in leadership skills or qualities necessary to meet its objectives.
Leaders usually have proven skills in financial and project management. However, many top leaders struggle with communication, coaching and collaboration skills. To build and retain top talent, including the most promising leaders in an organisation, a leadership development programme should bridge gaps and emphasise the right skill sets.
Benefits of leadership development
The benefits of leadership development go far beyond closing the leadership gap. Without strong leadership, even successful organisations often struggle without the direction, guidance and vision needed to effectively navigate challenges, inspire employees and achieve their goals.
However, excellent leadership boosts revenue, cultivates a happier and more productive workforce and creates an environment for higher organisational performance.
9 reasons why leadership development expands a leader’s impact
People managers exert various forms of influence on those around them. However, a well-developed leader wields a significantly greater positive impact on their team and broader sphere of influence, particularly in critical dimensions such as:
● Becoming more competent and trustworthy;
● Building their character and reliability;
● Developing emotional resilience and agility; and
● Understanding their role and connecting their skills with key business goals.
As leaders prioritise skill development, they cultivate not only their own confidence and identity, but also unlock their ability to profoundly influence and foster growth within their teams. The outcome? Heightened collaboration, enhanced communication and a more substantial business impact.
1. Leadership development improves talent retention
Excellent leaders attract and motivate excellent people. Organisations practising leadership development attract and retain the best people. In today’s climate of economic uncertainty affecting many different industries, leaders are increasingly focused on retaining employees (and particularly top talent).
When leaders engage with their teams, employees feel a sense of loyalty to their leader and, subsequently, to the organisation. These interactions also create new opportunities, which increases the employees’ avenues to learn new skills and advance in the organisation. As employees build trust with the leader, their desire to stay at the organisation typically increases.
By improving retention rates and enabling human resource teams to hire the best candidates, the cost and frustration of high turnover rates decrease. Most organisations find that investing in leadership development pays for itself many times over.
2. Leadership development creates collective action and engagement
Great leaders unite people from all walks of life and backgrounds – a feat that requires both soft and hard skills to accomplish. Finding a common goal and bringing the right people together is nearly impossible without the appropriate leadership skills.
By embracing collective action and fostering a united push towards shared objectives, leadership development empowers leaders to create a cohesive strategy and a collaborative environment for the entire organisation. As they guide their teams, these leaders emphasise the importance of working together towards common goals, eliminating scattered approaches and fostering a greater sense of focus.
By nurturing a high-trust and inclusive culture that encourages collaboration and innovation, employees become more invested in the collective mission, leading to better outcomes and more significant achievements. With clear expectations and adequate support, the entire organisation aligns efforts and resources, propelling everyone forward on a unified path to success.
3. Leadership development drives breakthrough results
By starting with the organisation’s vision and values, successful leaders design the strategies that are most suitable to achieve the organisation’s goals. Through coaching and motivating employees, they instil those values and vision into their team.
Team members then take the reins by setting their own goals and solving problems to achieve the goals while contributing alongside their leaders.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution® methodology (4DX®) – pioneered by FranklinCovey – offers a comprehensive framework for achieving exceptional results. They emphasise the importance of narrowing focus to the wildly important, acting on lead measures with the highest leverage and maintaining a compelling scoreboard to track progress.
By creating a cadence of accountability through disciplined evaluation and continuous improvement, leaders and organisations can drive success and consistently achieve their goals.
4. Leadership development builds foundational skills
Leaders must fully commit to and prioritise leadership development goals and habits to reap the benefits mentioned above. These objectives act as strong foundations, empowering leaders to enhance self-awareness, effectively guide and nurture their team members, and drive their organisation towards exceptional achievements.
Once an organisation decides to embark on a leadership development programme, the next crucial step involves identifying the specific traits, skills and behaviours that current and aspiring leaders must acquire. By tailoring these qualities to align seamlessly with the organisation’s unique needs and culture, leaders are equipped with the essential toolkit to meet and exceed the ever-evolving demands ahead.
5. Leadership development drives active listening skills
Communication skills consistently rank at the forefront of essential qualities for aspiring leaders. When leaders can master effective communication, they unlock a myriad of capabilities, such as adeptly coaching individuals, resolving conflicts, setting clear expectations, executing strategic initiatives and fostering team cohesion. At the core of exceptional communication lies the art of active listening.
Active listeners possess the remarkable ability to inquire, engage others in meaningful dialogue and attentively absorb information with the purpose of gaining valuable insights, regardless of whether those insights align with their own perspectives. Irrespective of one’s position or the individuals involved, a remarkable leader remains poised and open to listening, even in the face of opposition or dissenting viewpoints.
6. Leadership development drives constructive feedback
Leaders who encounter challenges in providing constructive feedback find themselves entangled in uncomfortable and unproductive conversations. True excellence stems from continuous improvement, often facilitated by an external perspective. Leaders bear a distinctive responsibility and opportunity to inspire others towards growth and development without resorting to fault-finding or undermining.
Leaders must consistently bear in mind that feedback is not a weapon to wield but rather a powerful tool to foster improvement and motivation. Skilful leaders initiate the feedback process by acknowledging and highlighting the positive contributions employees make while also guiding them to recognise areas that have the potential for optimisation. Constructive feedback goes beyond mere critique of behaviour; it serves as a means to sharpen employees’ skill sets and should be offered with the genuine intent to assist and uplift.
By assisting others in identifying avenues for improvement, leaders not only contribute to the generation of solutions but also extend unwavering support to those individuals as they strive towards personal growth and enhancement.
7. Leadership development drives adaptability
Embracing a steadfast commitment to continuous learning constitutes a fundamental attribute of effective leadership. True leaders understand that they need not possess exhaustive knowledge in every domain. On the contrary, they foster a thriving work environment by wholeheartedly embracing change and setting aside personal ego.
Leadership development initiatives serve as catalysts for cultivating open-mindedness and adaptability, empowering leaders to navigate uncertain times, tackle arduous tasks and thrive in fast-paced environments.
By embracing a mindset of continuous learning, leaders actively embrace fresh opportunities and perspectives, empowering them to remain at the forefront of change and readily adjust to shifting situations. This commitment to personal and professional development provides leaders with the resilience, agility and adaptability necessary to navigate the intricacies of modern organisational environments.
As leaders cultivate a culture of open-mindedness, they not only promote innovation but also motivate their teams to embark on their individual journeys of growth and improvement.
8. Leadership development fosters emotional intelligence
Leadership development plays a pivotal role in cultivating emotional intelligence, an indispensable trait that sets exceptional leaders apart. This process involves honing crucial components, such as self-awareness, motivation and effective communication.
Motivated leaders, armed with a clear understanding of their mission, inspire passion and commitment among their workforce, fostering a dynamic and driven work environment. Moreover, effective communication empowers leaders to articulate their vision, actively listen to their team members and create a culture of transparency, collaboration and mutual understanding.
Incorporating emotional intelligence into leadership development programmes results in a new generation of empathic leaders who navigate challenges with composure and inspire others to achieve remarkable results. By fostering a harmonious work environment, where creativity thrives and employees feel valued, emotionally intelligent leaders ignite innovation and collective goal achievement.
Ultimately, leadership development becomes a transformative journey paving the way for exceptional leadership that guides organisations towards enduring success.
9. Leadership development drives inclusive team dynamics
In companies that prioritise diversity and inclusion, each team possesses its own distinctive dynamics. Leaders play a pivotal role in fostering an environment that encourages diverse thinking and problem-solving, all while maintaining objectivity when assigning tasks to the most suitable team members.
Exceptional leaders guide their teams in learning how to collaborate effectively and communicate seamlessly. They bring out the best in others by understanding each individual’s strengths, leading by example and responding empathically to concerns and questions that may arise. Moreover, they demonstrate appreciation and consistently acknowledge the valuable contributions made by team members.
Develop better leaders with FranklinCovey
Effective leadership plays a pivotal role in the success of any company in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world. When organisations prioritise teaching, encouraging and exemplifying the right leadership skills, they can reap substantial financial and social advantages that position them far ahead of their competitors.However, it’s important to note that lasting change and the development of exceptional leaders do not occur overnight. It requires patience, thoughtful planning and consistent support. With the FranklinCovey All Access Pass®, current and future leaders gain access to invaluable resources, a team of experts and cutting-edge technology that facilitate and drive leadership development within their organisation. This comprehensive approach empowers leaders to unlock their full potential and contribute to the organisation’s long-term success.