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Developing exceptional leadership skills demand practical experience that allows leaders to hone their leadership muscles and apply what they’ve learned in the workplace. Leadership is not something that can be taught in a classroom. Unlike other workplace skills, it is frequently described as a set of behaviours and skills that can be learnt and improved. According to research, only 5% of businesses have implemented inclusive leadership development opportunities, while 83% of organisations have deemed this an important action for succession.

Organisations are increasingly choosing to identify and develop leadership skills from within rather than searching outside the firm for talent to assume leadership roles. This is a wise choice because, in addition to being less expensive, investing in development programmes also guarantees that organisations will have a strong pipeline of talent that is committed to the company’s growth, have sufficient industry knowledge, and familiar with the organisation and its culture. From the standpoint of the employee, having distinct career tracks and chances for development will boost motivation and retention. 

Strong leaders have a remarkable capacity for motivating people and guiding groups to success. An employee with effective leadership abilities can boost morale, foster a great work atmosphere, and empower others. They can greatly contribute to the achievement of team goals and help colleagues overcome hurdles. 

Regardless of where your organisation is on the leadership development trajectory, it is never too late to begin or continue improving capacity to build leadership skills. How then can you develop leadership skills in employees? 

7 Strategies to Developing Leadership Skills in Employees

1. Identify potential leaders early

 Identifying those in your current workforce with the attributes, competencies, and learning abilities needed to thrive in people management or upper-level leadership post is the first step in getting the appropriate people into leadership. High-potential employees are a term used to describe these people. Some of the ways to identify these potential leaders include; those who speak out when things aren’t working and actively find a solution, those who invest in their growth as well as that of your organisation, and those who understand how their attitude and work impact their team members, those who are enthusiastic about their job, implements latest plans and also encourages others to do same. Employees that possess these characteristics demonstrate an understanding of how to balance personal and team requirements with larger organisational goals. 

2. Make networking opportunities available

When you identify a potential leader within your organisation, you should help them enhance their visibility. Increasing your potential leader’s visibility within the organisation and industry allows them to observe and learn from a broader pool of leaders while also establishing crucial relationships that will help them be more productive in their new responsibilities. This can be done by inviting them to critical executive meetings and sending them to conferences and events within the industry. 

3. Develop a coaching and mentorship programme: 

While there are many different types of mentorship programmes, one typical technique is to link a talented employee with an existing high performing leader in the organisation. To prevent awkward dynamics and encourage transparency, the mentor should often be outside the employee’s reporting structure. Mentorship is an essential component of the development process for potential leaders, and a good leader will regard it as such. They’ll have a dialogue with the employee to assess their chosen strategy’s efficacy. Rather than telling the potential leader what to do, the coach/mentor will allow them to learn from their mistakes to develop their leadership skills. 

4. Provide regular feedback on leadership skills

4. Provide regular feedback on leadership skills​

Give potential leaders standard input on parts of their performance that might not otherwise emerge in a review as they seek to build their skills. The would-be leader will benefit from honest, constructive comments on listening skills, delegating, and attitude, as well as a record of their progress, to guide their future steps. Organisations that invest in leadership development derive significant competitive advantages, such as lower attrition, lower hiring costs, and more skilled and innovative staff. Due to varied prejudices and upbringing, vague comments are frequently misinterpreted. Don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism; it could be just what your potential leader requires. 

5. Place a premium on personal development and soft skills

Emerging leaders working to improve their management skills may become overwhelmed. It would be best if you encouraged them to boost their “soft” skills and imagination. Creative leaders are better able to solve difficulties and transform obstacles into opportunities. To develop your leaders, you should identify the soft skills and qualities they need for the new role, the areas they can improve on, and a realistic plan to achieve these skills. Ultimately, you can pair these emerging leaders with current leaders in your organisation who are vital in the areas the potential leaders lack. 

6. Encourage personal Advocacy

Emerging leaders must learn to speak up for themselves and not be afraid to ask for progression or more opportunities. Encourage your potential leaders to develop a strategy for getting to the next level, including a clear grasp of what it will take to generate peer and administrative support. 

7. Enrol them on an external training programme

 Internal professional development tailored to an organisation’s needs is priceless. On the other hand, many employees benefit significantly from the structure of external leadership programmes, whether online or in person, such as those offered by Workforce Group. These programmes allow participants to obtain other perspectives and learn new practices as opposed to those unique to their organisation. The exposure to learners from diverse industry sectors also provides an opportunity to glean new knowledge.  

Excellent leadership abilities aid in career advancement. To lead, you don’t always need to have a position of authority; without formal charge, you can still demonstrate leadership, which is an essential soft skill. But bear in mind that being a leader is not about micromanaging! 

Developing leadership skills takes time and money and can be costly to your firm. It is, however, an investment in your organisation’s future, and you will reap the rewards for many years to come. 

At Workforce Group, we are passionate about supporting new leaders in their development and transformation. Learn more about how we can help you develop leadership skills in your organisation by clicking here to schedule an appointment. 

Picture of Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Director, Workforce Learning