Posted: May 9, 2017
By: Nicole Laidler
3 Simple Strategies to Encourage Leadership Development
Are great leaders born or are they made? It’s a question with no right answer. Some people seem to possess a natural ability to inspire and lead, while others may need more mentoring and support to fully develop their leadership potential.
One thing is certain: the most important asset at any company is human capital, so turning current employees into future leaders is one of the smartest investments a business can make.
Not only does internal leadership development strengthen employee engagement and promote the transfer of knowledge throughout the whole organization, it plays a key role in any successful succession plan.
But it takes time to develop employees into leaders who will be able to make the best decisions, guide their colleagues, and meet future challenges and opportunities with confidence.
Here are three simple strategies to encourage leadership development within your organization:
Define Your Goals
Any leadership development program should start with a clear vision. It might seem obvious, but it’s important not to skip this first step.
Are you preparing a succession plan? Do you need to identify and mentor future managers? Would you like to inspire your employees to embrace an ownership mentality? Or is it time to spark new initiative and boost workplace moral?
A leadership development program aimed at increasing overall employee engagement and productivity might look significantly different from one that aims to prepare your next generation of leaders.
Defining the purpose of your leadership development program will make it easier to identify the type of process you need, and will help you determine when you’ve met your goal.
Leave the Comfort Zone
Change is difficult. Some employees may feel intimidated by the prospect of taking on a new role with new responsibilities. Here’s how you can prepare them for the challenge:
- Provide employees with opportunities to network, within your own organization and in the wider community. Encourage them to reach out to co-workers they don’t already know and to represent your company at community and business events. They’ll make new contacts and learn valuable people skills that will serve them well as they develop into leaders.
- Gradually assign new tasks that require new skills. A break from the routine can boost employee engagement and allows individuals to develop capabilities they will need as they transition into a leadership role. Provide guidance and mentorship along the way, but resist the temptation to jump in and solve every problem.
- Look for learning opportunities outside the familiar surroundings of the workplace. Attending courses, workshops or lectures in a new environment promotes face-to-face interaction between employees and instructors as well as an opportunity for both personal and professional growth.
Look for Real-World Learning
A good leadership development program should be focused on practical solutions offered by instructors with plenty of real-world experience. There is a place for business theory, but nothing beats discussing day-to-day challenges faced by leaders in the field.
It also should be flexible – both in its format and in its opportunities for learning. Your employees are already busy with their work and personal lives, so choose a program that delivers the learning outcomes you need in a way that works for everyone.
Finally, look for a leadership development program that understands the difference between development and training.
Training focusses on maintaining the status-quo by promoting established standards and best-practices. Development looks towards the future with a focus on maximizing individual potential to benefit the organization as a whole. When it comes to leaders, development is key.
Whether you believe leaders or born or made, having a clear understanding of what skills and characteristics your organization requires and then supporting employees as they learn how to adapt to change and meet real-world challenges with knowledge and confidence will foster better leadership within any organization.