Developing leaders is one of the best uses of a company’s time and resources. Great leadership can make the difference between an inspired workforce and unhappy employees.
While 83% of businesses say it’s important to develop leaders at all levels, less than 5% of companies have implemented leadership development programs and initiatives.
Let’s explore what leadership means, why having good leadership in a company is important, the qualities of effective leaders, and nine ways you can grow existing leaders in your business to drive results.
- What does a leader do?
- The importance of having good leaders in your company
- Qualities of effective leaders
- 9 ways to grow leaders in your business
- How to develop leadership skills
What does a leader do?
“A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”— John C. Maxwell, author of Good Leaders Ask Great Questions
The definition of the word is objective, but most would agree that a leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in others.
Leaders possess a variety of great qualities and often, unlimited potential. The world’s most successful leaders demonstrate self-awareness, encourage innovation and strategic thinking, are ethical, practice effective communication, and focus on developing others daily.
Leaders are also known to prioritize personal development and have growth mindsets. Leaders at a company build and organize teams, set goals, devise a way to achieve objectives, and lead employees through the process.
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The importance of having good leaders in your company
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Leadership development can lead to sustained success within a company. It helps improve bottom-line financial performance, boosts employee engagement, and can shape the culture and strategy of the overall business.
There are numerous reasons businesses should develop their leaders. Organizations with high-quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key metrics like employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.
It’s simple: Great people do an excellent job at attracting, hiring, and inspiring other great people! They create a vision and motivate others to make it a reality.
Qualities of effective leaders
Empathy is an underrated soft skill in the workplace, but teams centered around empathy are often the most united. Empathetic leaders identify with others and strive to understand their points of view. Empathy is vital because it can help leaders foster communication and build trust with direct reports and other colleagues.
Amazing leaders are their employees’ greatest cheerleaders and strongest supporters. Mentorship is a skill that leaders at all levels should develop and deploy. When you can effectively mentor your team, you bring out the best in everyone. Mentorship generates confidence, inspires trust, and speeds up team progress.
Innovative leaders combine business intuition with a creative mindset. Innovative thinking is the ability to bring big ideas and unique visions to life while motivating others to bring those visions into reality.
Visionary leaders want to bring people together and work towards a common goal. These individuals have a clear vision for the future which they can communicate to their employees. They also foster a community of collaboration and teamwork by giving others a sense of purpose.
Weak leaders complain, whine, and blame others for their failures. That’s because those who cannot understand their thoughts and feelings usually struggle to lead motivated teams. Effective leaders possess high emotional intelligence (EQ). This means they can use and manage their own emotions to communicate, solve problems, and relieve stress. Individuals with a high EQ understand why they feel a certain way and as a result, have high self-confidence.
9 ways to grow leaders in your business
- Offer networking opportunities
- Support employees
- Encourage mentorship
- Provide career growth opportunities
- Provide adequate training
- Use big data
- Start developing leaders early on
- Challenge employees to solve their own problems
- Rotate employee positions
1Offer networking opportunities
They say your network is your net worth. Encourage superstars on your team to network and shadow other company leaders. Networking skills help leaders complete projects and tasks because they always have a solid group of contacts to rely on as resources.
Give team leaders the proper support when assigning new tasks and projects. Don’t assume someone won’t have questions just because they recently completed a similar task. Arrange regular one-on-one meetings, provide positive and constructive feedback often, and follow up weekly to see how things are going!
Encourage leaders on your team to find mentors who can help them work towards their dreams. A good mentor will help their mentee tap into their own knowledge base and learn faster than they would alone. Mentors should help less-experienced leaders identify career objectives, develop new skills, and create a plan to achieve short—and long-term goals.
4Provide career growth opportunities
One of the worst things you can do is hold a highly motivated leader back from professional growth opportunities. If it’s helpful, work with leaders on career development plans that establish a path forward. Encourage leaders to apply for promotions and provide plenty of feedback in the meantime so they feel prepared when the time comes to climb the corporate ladder.
5Provide adequate training
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”— Richard Branson, British entrepreneur
Even naturally gifted leaders will face learning curves when transitioning to new roles and projects. Empower your leaders to make decisions on their own and take on additional responsibilities, but let them know that you’re there to guide them through the process and answer questions along the way!
6Use big data
Big data has allowed managers to measure team performance and learn more about their business. When looking to develop leaders, use big data statistics to determine which employees will be able to grow into different leadership positions at your company.
7Start developing leaders early on
When you identify a potential leader, you shouldn’t wait to develop them. Invite the individual to participate in meetings that involve them in wider company initiatives. Position them as a leader by encouraging them to be an advocate for the company’s brand and purpose. Hand over additional responsibilities and see if they’re up to the challenge. This way, when a promotion opportunity becomes available, they’ll feel prepared to transition to a new role with ease.
8Challenge employees to solve their own problems
Don’t hold the hand of a leader you’re trying to develop. Give them the power to make decisions and the resources they need to balance their new workload. More times than not, they will surprise you with high-quality output while practicing new skills and driving their team forward.
9Rotate employee positions
Power and knowledge don’t have to be restricted to one formal leadership role. Employee rotation is a great way to help each potential leader within your company develop skills they wouldn’t have needed otherwise. This practice involves moving employees between jobs to expose individuals to new challenges so they can fulfill team gaps at any point and time.
How to develop leadership skills
- Provide constructive feedback: Constructive feedback can enhance a new leader’s performance, improve morale, and provide actionable insights that encourage growth. You can use Fellow to give and get feedback as work happens and enable your team to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance.
- Mentor and coach team members: Use mentor meetings to discuss career development, give situational advice, and provide skill-related feedback to new leaders. With our Mentor Meeting Template, you can fuel growth during your next mentorship meeting with a direct report, teammate, or new leader.
- Stress the importance of soft skills: Soft skills are often overlooked in corporate settings, but they’re incredibly important. Skills like communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving help facilitate human connections at work. The next time you’re developing a leader on your team, encourage them to work on these skills alongside other technical or hard skills.
- Host regular one-on-one meetings: One-on-one meetings give newly established leaders and managers uninterrupted time to review performance, discuss feedback, and get to know each other on a more personal level. Use one-on-one time to answer clarifying questions and create solid relationships with the superstars on your team!
There’s no better time to develop the keenest of your group to become great leaders. In 2022, 77% of businesses reported that leadership within their company was lacking and only 33% of employees felt engaged at work. You can improve employee satisfaction and retain top talent by identifying, training, and promoting the leaders of tomorrow, today!