As we engage in conversations with executives about developing talent and leaders in the workplace, they often reply, “We already have leadership development covered” when in fact, they don’t. Frequently, the lack of an effective leadership development and training program results from thinking only the “senior players” need to evolve in areas of leadership. However, the best leadership development goals for any organization are an integral part of the strategic business plan which includes all employees and managers since that is where operational execution occurs at it’s core.
While the C-suite executive and senior executive are vital to business success, focusing on building leadership skills at all levels within an organization can build a culture of leaders ready to fill positions at a moment's notice. There are several areas for leadership development and training in the workplace and the opportunity for it isn’t always the most obvious. Let’s take a look at 4 often overlooked areas of leadership development:
1. Team Intelligence
Building and leading teams impacts the outcome of organizational objectives and can support the emergence of leaders. It is incredibly beneficial for teams to understand and acknowledge the strengths and challenges of each member, as well as a mission and roadmap with agreed upon boundaries. In most cases, team members don’t automatically know how to effectively work together and create success and without training they are often less productive. Providing the opportunity for teams to give and receive feedback is vital to creating a high-functioning successful team.
2. Managing Up and Down
In numerous conversations with high-potential employees, they consistently wished they had more knowledge and tools on how they were perceived and how to manage up (bosses) and down (subordinates). Often, these talented employees believe they are expected to perform management duties at a high level already. Therefore, it is imperative to equip them with the essential skills for leaders that maximizes their potential including leadership coaching skills, situational leadership, effective communication skills and knowing how to build smarter teams.
3. Succession Planning
Even beyond the executive level, middle management role fulfillment can be devastating to a company’s bottom line when left unfilled. Often organizations don’t place a high enough priority on middle management in key positions. Has your company identified high-potential employees and are you effectively training them in order to be promoted? Professional leadership training and development for employees at all levels will reduce job transition time and save money by having a group of trained leaders in-house ready to move up the ladder at a moments notice.
4. Performance Problem Solving
This is an area of challenge for most mid and senior level managers. Do they know how to get to the bottom of low performance? At what point do they invoke consequences and what exactly is acceptable? How do you have a difficult conversation and communicate consequences in a manner that promotes accountability and behavior change? Without ongoing and effective programs in place to develop essential leadership skills, most managers will be ill-prepared to handle problems.
So, does your company truly have a comprehensive and effective leadership development plan? If your business solely focuses on the senior executive ranks, then you’re ignoring several critical areas to develop leaders, create high-functioning teams and generate additional business success.