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Why employers should invest in leadership development

6 min read

While many talk about prioritizing employee health and company culture, little is said about supporting management teams and leadership development. And falling engagement and motivation rates reveal that leadership development programs are sorely needed now more than ever.

In many cases, employees are promoted to leadership positions without having the right tools, skill sets, or plans in mind. Too often, they are thrown into the deep end without a life jacket and expected to stay afloat. Due to their lack of experience and resources, many develop harmful management patterns, like micromanagement, which ultimately impacts their entire team.

In this post, we’ll talk about leadership development programs and how they can benefit everyone in your company. Additionally, we’ll explain how to create and operate an effective leadership development program, starting from scratch.

The value of leadership development

According to Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.” Both of which are areas that good leadership development programs emphasize. Essentially, they provide leaders with the strategic tools and soft skills that they need for success.

Leadership development programs might train leaders in the areas of:

  • Decision making
  • Task delegation
  • Project management
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Resilience
  • Influencing team members
  • Negotiation and communication
  • Change management

A common misconception is that leadership skills are inherent. Those who are “born leaders” are the only ones that have the right combination of skills to succeed. While certain skills might come more naturally for individuals, no hard rule dictates who is capable of being an effective leader. In fact, some of the fairest and most inclusive leaders are those that feel the most underqualified for the position.  

That’s why leadership development plans have the power to revolutionize company culture. While you might be helping one individual to develop, you are really investing in the well-being and success of everyone they are in contact with.

Benefits of leadership development

As mentioned before, leadership development programs have the potential to impact everyone on your team. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the specific ways that you can benefit from investing in leadership.

More connected company culture

Perhaps leadership development programs have the most impact on company culture. Which, consequentially impacts every other aspect of your business. After all, without a solid company culture, it’s unlikely that your business will have good internal communications or high levels of organizational commitment. 

While company culture is everyone’s responsibility, leaders have a great amount of influence when it comes to fostering ownership, transparency, and trust. Good leaders encourage participation and collaboration by valuing their team’s contributions.

Through leadership development, leaders can learn how to conduct one-on-one meetings, foster psychological safety, and cultivate better working relationships with team members. Ultimately, driving a high-performance culture and positively impacting your bottom line.

Reduced turnover

According to a recent Forbes article, between July and November 2022, more than 4 million workers in the United States quit their jobs every month. This number is expected to increment in years to come and for many businesses, the struggle to retain employees is real.

The article goes on to say that 57% of employees who quit in 2021 did so because they felt disrespected at work. This might be due to a lack of transparency, general feelings of being unheard, or not being included in important discussions.

Leadership development programs could be a huge step in the right direction for companies that are struggling with issues such as these. With the right tools, leaders will be able to empower employees and boost motivation about projects and responsibilities.  Leaders play a critical role as mentors and can encourage their team members to reach their full potential.

Stronger communication

If individuals don’t know how to tackle steps step-by-step, they might become overwhelmed and quickly burn out. In addition, unclear communication can result in wasting time on unnecessary tasks, workplace hostility, and excessive confusion. Overall, inefficient and unproductive working patterns.

While some leaders might have well-developed skill sets in other areas, breaking down and communicating goals is not everyone’s specialty. And it’s not usually emphasized in traditional training or learning and development programs either. However, communication is an essential component of effective leadership and it can bring a wealth of value to your company.

Leadership and development training can help leaders grow their project management skillsets and develop clear roadmaps to lay out projects for their teams. As a result, there will be a greater sense of collaboration, synthesis, and focus for everyone on your team.

Smoother transitions

Over the past few years, companies across the US have seen some rapid changes. And for many agile organizations and startups, change is the day-to-day norm. While changing workplaces can be dynamic and innovative, they can be strenuous, especially if leaders are unprepared to succeed in these environments.

During times of change, it’s especially important that leaders have solid objectives and can “hold down the ship” without being afraid to try new methods to reach goals. They need to be strong, yet adaptable forces who are particularly adept at listening to their team and spotting new opportunities.

While some of these skills come with time and experience, leadership development programs can help leaders to overcome some of the challenges when managing change and establish the structural framework necessary to complete projects from start to finish. Learning to manage change effectively means cultivating feelings of excitement for the possibilities, rather than feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed.

What’s the business impact?

Aside from benefitting company culture, reducing turnover, and providing leaders with the support they need to communicate and manage change effectively, leadership development is essential for business growth and can help companies to gain a competitive edge. This is largely due to three factors:

  • When leaders feel confident and supported, they will feel more eager to take charge in their roles and enjoy their job. This means that they will foster positivity, and have healthy and efficient communication with their colleagues.
  • These programs help leaders to develop strategic thinking skills. Which encourages leaders to come up with ideas that go above and beyond the competition.
  • Leadership development helps leaders to delegate tasks and utilize resources effectively. Businesses will be able to benefit from more efficient and less expensive processes.

How to implement a leadership development program

Make it a group effort

Leadership development is a topic that impacts your entire company. Therefore, everyone on your team should play a part in the process of creating your program.

A good way to start is to collect information through surveys. Ask leaders about ways that they would like to feel supported and employees about their experiences working with management. Additionally, ask company executives about company targets and insights on long-term goals. 

Lay out the plan

Once you’ve collected information from your team, look for commonalities and patterns in their responses. This will help you to determine what you should include and emphasize in your leadership development program.

Next, write down specific outcomes and goals that you would like to come to fruition.  Explicitly detail the ideal qualities for leaders in your company.

When writing these goals, consider who will participate in the program and what they should gain as a result. Participants might include:

  • Current leaders who would like to develop their skill sets 
  • Employees who possess strong potential for a leadership role
  • Participants in the company’s internal mobility program

The last step is defining the resources you will need and the specific metrics you will use to measure the program’s success. Since leadership programs have such a global effect and impact so many moving parts, it’s best to keep track of several KPIs to have a holistic idea of your progress. Here are a few to get started:

  • Employee satisfaction score
  • Retention rate by manager
  • Number of active projects
  • Productivity levels
  • Absenteeism rates

Track your progress

Although leadership development programs are long-term investments, they can lead to a big payoff. However, to get the most out of your efforts, it’s best to regularly check in and keep track of your progress.

Tools like automated reporting software can help to visualize KPI changes from month to month. Additionally, quarterly performance reviews and climate surveys can be excellent reference points. 

Regardless of your business’s strategy or the metrics that you choose to monitor, having a clear system in place is key to having a successful outcome.

The future of leadership development

To conclude, here are some key takeaways: 

  • Leadership development programs can impact company culture and your business’s bottom line. Effective leaders are known to reduce turnover and cultivate high-performing teams.
  • Prioritizing leadership skills can be advantageous for agile teams and teams experiencing rapid change.
  • Using automated reporting tools are beneficial while making adjustments to your program and creating and tracking goals.

When leadership development is a priority, everyone’s a winner. It’s good for your team, good for your company, and good for your long-term business health. 

To have the maximum impact and Return On Investment for your efforts, it’s essential to have the right tools on hand. Factorial’s all-in-one software features OKR tracking, custom reports, automated performance reviews, and more. Request a free demo now.

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