Tips and Topics for Leadership Development
Leadership is a regularly requested skill on every employer’s wish list—both for new hires and current employees looking to advance. But what qualities should you look for in new and evolving leaders? And how can you help employees grow their skills to fulfill employers’ leadership desires?
Leadership training is your answer to both questions.
Why Leadership Training Is Important
Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.
– Stephen Covey
Leadership, the ability to guide and influence others so objectives are attained willingly, is a key attribute that outstanding managers possess and contribute to your organization’s success. Not all managers are natural leaders, however, and even those who have that instinctive flair will grow their leadership skills from good to great with training.
Leadership training provides tips, tools, and resources for all participants to become stronger leaders, regardless of where they rank at the start. Well-planned training presents the comprehensive components of skilled leadership, including guidance and techniques for succeeding in all realms. It also provides insights on how to consider employees’ perspectives, promote productivity, and enhance managers’ problem-solving skills and confidence.
What Topics Should Leadership Training Include?
To provide the information and education your current and future managers need to lead, Indeed recommends the following leadership training topics:
- Conflict Resolution. Workplace conflict can unravel even the strongest of teams, negatively impacting productivity, deadlines, and morale. Teaching your managers how to quickly recognize and resolve conflict can save valuable time spent dealing with escalating difficulties—including disruptive personality clashes. Leaders who develop strong conflict resolution skills improve team cooperation, productivity, employee motivation, and retention.
- Dealing with Change: Workplace changes can cause a mix of unsettled emotions and unproductive results stemming from fear, anger, and distrust. It’s vital for leaders to be skilled at helping employees cope. In “change” training, managers learn what drives people’s varied responses to change and how to help employees deal with it in more positive, productive ways. Training topics include the challenges brought on by change, the importance of resilience, opportunities that arise with change, and how to evaluate and positively apply changing ideas/processes for success.
- Problem Solving. Problems will arise in your workplace, so problem-solving is an essential tool for managers to develop. Learning to identify problems early helps leaders determine the most effective way to approach difficult situations in a positive, relevant, and successful manner—which also helps employees feel safe and confident.
- Leading Innovation. To stay relevant, competitive, and successful in today’s rapidly changing markets, every organization wants and needs an innovative workforce. Teaching managers how to lead creatively encourages a culture where employees take pride in helping to develop innovative ideas and solutions.
- Virtual Leadership. In the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the vast remote workforce that’s followed makes virtual leadership skills a must for managers. Topics that help managers lead their digital teams to success include: effective ways to communicate without face-to-face interaction, maximizing online tools while perfecting technical skills, and using emotional intelligence to help steer team collaboration and engagement.
- Project Planning & Delegation. Strong project management is an essential skill for managers but knowing how to effectively delegate work is its own art. Learning project-tracking systems can help managers clarify workers’ progress and spot problem areas to address as a team. In addition, this training should show managers how to identify and delegate work in a manner in-sync with different team members’ strengths.
- Building Trust & Respect. Building a foundation of employee trust is critical for organizational success, starting with team leaders. When employees trust their manager, they respect his/her decision-making and are more likely to implement team and organizational strategies. Leadership training should focus on skill-building for effective communication and other tools that will help managers grow their employees’ confidence, motivation, and trust.
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence
and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.
– Sheryl Sandberg
- Coaching to Improve Performance. Coaching is a skill that allows leaders to develop more effective and meaningful working relationships with their employees. It can also help individual team members feel recognized and valued, leading to improved job performance. Training for this component should guide managers on how to empower employees, offer compliments, and encourage honest communication.
- Managing Effective Meetings. Leaders who plan and use meetings effectively increase an organization’s productivity, focus, and efficiency. Training for this strength includes providing tips for keeping meetings timely and purposeful, ways to encourage active participation, and how to achieve successful outcomes with sparingly scheduled meetings.
- Motivating/Encouraging Employee. Motivation and encouragement are key to developing outstanding workforce performance and organizational success. As a first step, teach your managers why and how motivation enhances employees’ well-being and workplace morale/culture. Training should include proven motivational techniques with guidance on how to help workers reach their highest potential.
- Effective Communication. Good communication is at the forefront of building employee trust and strong working relationships. Managers who lack communication skills can unknowingly build interpersonal barriers that negatively impact morale and team cooperation. Help your leaders learn to communicate in clear, direct, and motivating statements, provide constructive feedback, and elicit useful team input.
- Time & Energy Management: True leaders don’t just insist that teams manage their time and personal energy wisely, they offer guidance for doing so. Teach your managers time- and energy-saving techniques that they can apply personally, then share with their employees. Training should include: How to define and prioritize goals, delegate resourcefully, minimize interruptions, and maximize prime working hours clearly and appropriately. Be sure to also include energy-management tips (i.e., encouraging employees to take breaks and lunch). Teams that are less stressed and more energized are also more motivated to meet deadlines and make fewer mistakes.
Management is about arranging and telling.
Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.
– Tom Peters
Add More Leadership Building Blocks for Success
Along with the leadership components above, you’ll want to teach your leaders:
- How to Set & Achieve Goals. Goal setting is required at every level of any workforce—from part-time employees to CEOs. But often, employees aren’t trained on how to set and achieve goals successfully, so the process has a negative impact on productivity, advancement, and morale. Teach your leaders how to determine priority objectives, develop processes for achieving them, and measure success. And encourage them to show employees how to do the same.
- How to Identify & Cultivate Future Leaders. As part of your organization’s long-term strategic plan, give current leaders the tools they need to recognize and mentor future leaders. Instilling this empowerment will build the foundation for strong, ongoing workforce leadership.
- How & Why to Grow Your Soft Skills. Soft skills like communication, creativity, and even leadership are no longer considered “bonus” traits, they are necessary skills for advancing in the workplace. Help your managers understand what soft skills are, how they contribute to effective leadership, and how to develop them—both personally and in their teams.
- How to Give & Receive Feedback. There’s an art to giving and receiving feedback in the most objective, productive way. And like most artistic endeavors, it takes practice to achieve skilled, successful results. Giving your leaders tools and techniques to help master giving/receiving feedback provides opportunity for expanded learning.
Help Leaders Succeed with Coaching & Follow-up
Over time, even the most motivated leaders need a refresher on the new skills they’re trying to apply, so they don’t fall back to more familiar but less-effective management behaviors.
You can help your managers further their leadership skills by providing follow-up coaching, extended training, and plenty of resources—like KnowledgeCity’s extensive library of online leadership courses. The library features an ever-growing list of useful, up-to-date leadership material, including these two examples:
- Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: Become a more effective leader by building your EQ. Leaders learn how to build and use emotional intelligence to drive performance, improve company morale, forge meaningful connections, and navigate difficult situations. In addition, participants develop self-awareness, learn how to manage triggers, and become more skilled at inclusivity, empathy, and understanding their teams.
- Lateral Leadership: Leading Others Without Authority. Managers learn how to influence and inspire co-workers by working across boundaries and role functions. Working laterally can benefit any profession, applying fundamentals such as active listening, consistent feedback, and trust building. Leaders also learn to use their power of influence and methods for successfully leading troubled teams.
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