Many of the employee engagement and performance issues we read about (including those on this blog) are caused by poor management and leadership. Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report names leadership development as a top challenge identified by organizations in the coming year. Despite this fact, not enough organizations have a formal leadership development plan in place.
As we have mentioned in prior posts (see Three Signs You Might Be a Bad Manager), many managers have been promoted into leadership positions because they were good at their jobs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be good at leading others. While certain desirable leadership qualities, such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and drive cannot really be taught, there are others that can and should be taught. Most people will not automatically turn into effective leaders with a title change and a raise; they need coaching and mentoring. Below are a four important skills that should be included in a leadership development program:
1. Strategic Thinking
It’s easy to get bogged down in the everyday details of running a business or even a department. Leaders must keep their eyes on the prize at all times and keep the organization running on the right course despite the challenges and obstacles that come up along the way. They must also continuously think ahead to the next objective, even if the here and now is not in an optimal state.
Leaders must be able to guide their organizations through challenges that come up daily. They need to show a positive attitude even in the face of adversity, and to help the entire organization learn from past issues so they are not repeated.
3. People Skills
They don’t have to be the life of the party, but great leaders need to be able to develop talent, build teams, delegate, and give and receive constructive feedback. In order to achieve these things they need to be observant, effective listeners who understand what motivates their team members. They also need the ability to break down the larger organizational goals into smaller ones and organize their execution.
4. Effective Communication
It is a leader’s job to ensure that everyone in the organization knows the mission and has specific marching orders. It’s also important that the leader inspire and motivate employees by showing them how their individual contributions are an important part of achieving the company’s goals. Communication should happen often, not just during a quarterly town hall. Whenever possible a leader should try to speak to smaller groups or individuals in a two-way dialogue rather than constantly pushing out one-way communications.
No matter how talented your employees are, everyone needs effective leadership to be successful. Taking the time to put together a leadership development plan will ensure that your organization will be in good hands well into the future.