The importance of leadership development in the workplace

 | Leadership

In today’s fast-paced world, leaders need to lead more than ever. 

Technological advancements, market disruptions, shifting consumer preferences, and global interconnectedness mean leaders must be adaptable, strategic-thinking, risk-takers, team builders, innovators, have strong communication skills and more. 

Why do they need these skills? To be able to guide their teams through the wild waters of change to ensure their businesses survive and thrive.

It’s a big ask! And a strong case for leadership development. But what exactly is leadership development? What are the specific benefits? And what types of programs are out there?

What is leadership development?

Leadership development or leadership training is a bit like crafting a superhero origin story for people in business suits. It’s the magical journey that takes mere mortals and transforms them into caped crusaders of the corporate world (minus the lycra, of course!).

In other words, it’s a strategic process where organisations invest in the growth and refinement of their current and future leaders. It involves cultivating the skills, knowledge, and qualities that make individuals effective leaders within your company.

The benefits of leadership development

According to research by career experts Zippia, 83% of organisations believe developing leaders at every company level is important. But, only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels. 

This is a bummer, as developing leadership skills offers so many benefits, both for employees and employers and organisations. Here are some of the main ones:

Benefits for employees 

  • Develop employee skill sets, including emotional intelligence
  • Help people better understand themselves 
  • Advance careers and salaries
  • Increase employee engagement and fulfilment 
  • Improve happiness and overall wellbeing

Benefits for organisations

  • Create a pipeline of future leaders
  • Improve staff retention rates 
  • Boost team happiness and effectiveness 
  • Reduce conflict 
  • Deliver better service to your customers/clients
  • Increase innovation and strategic risk-taking
  • Drive sales and profits
  • Help you understand what you need to do to succeed

As you can see, leadership development really is worth investing in. But you might be wondering what programs are best and what each involves. To answer this, let’s dive into the specifics. 

Related: Be an effective leader

Different types of leadership development

While there are lots of different types of leadership training programs and management training programs out there, these three can be a great starting point: 

Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)

An ELP is designed to identify, nurture, and develop individuals within your organisation who have the potential to take on future leadership roles. It’s a leadership development program that focuses on early to mid-career employees who exhibit leadership qualities.

What it involves

  • Participants are chosen based on nominations or assessments to identify those with leadership potential.
  • They receive a range of development opportunities, including training, mentoring, coaching, and workshops to enhance various leadership skills, including communication, decision making and strategic thinking.
  • They often take on leadership roles or challenging projects to gain practical experience.
  • They’re encouraged to network to build relationships with senior leaders, mentors, and peers.

Emerging leadership programs prepare individuals for future leadership roles within the organisation by enhancing their skills and ensuring a pipeline of capable leaders.

Related: Advice for new (out of their depth) leaders

360-degree feedback 

360-degree feedback is a tool for gathering comprehensive feedback on an individual business leader’s performance and leadership effectiveness. It involves getting input from multiple sources, including supervisors, peers, subordinates, and sometimes external stakeholders.

What it involves

  • Participants receive a questionnaire that assesses their performance and leadership competencies.
  • Feedback is collected anonymously from various sources who interact with the individual.
  • A report is generated, presenting a well-rounded view of the individual’s strengths and areas for improvement.

360 feedback provides a holistic view of someone’s leadership style and effectiveness. It highlights blind spots that an individual might not be aware of and offers actionable insights for personal and professional development. 

Strengths profiling

Strengths profiling focuses on identifying and leveraging an individual’s inherent strengths and talents to enhance their leadership effectiveness.

What it involves

  • Individuals typically complete assessments or surveys that identify their core strengths and talents.
  • Results are analysed to understand their unique strengths profile.
  • Development plans are created to capitalise on these strengths and align them with leadership responsibilities.

Strengths profiling fosters self-awareness through discovery and helps individuals build on existing strengths for improved leadership performance. In other words, it encourages individuals to excel in areas where they have a natural advantage.

Related: Being a leader – friendly versus friend

Related: Leaders! How to have difficult conversations at work

How to choose the right program for your organisation

The key to choosing the right program is to align your choice with your organisation and the needs of your leaders. Many organisations combine them as they complement each other and contribute to well-rounded development. 

Here are some questions you could ask to determine which is best for you:

  • What are the capabilities we need in our leaders—now and in the future—that will enable us to achieve our strategic objectives?
  • What specific outcomes or objectives are we aiming to achieve with our development efforts?
  • Are we focused on building a leadership pipeline, improving leadership effectiveness, fostering a particular leadership style, or addressing specific leadership challenges?
  • Are we primarily targeting emerging leaders, mid-level managers, senior executives, or a mix of these groups?
  • Do we have a specific group of high-potential individuals we want to groom for future leadership roles?
  • Are we looking for formal training programs, mentoring, coaching, self-assessment tools, or a combination?
  • Do we want in-person, virtual, or blended learning experiences?
  • How do our organisational culture and values align with the approach to leadership development we want to take?
  • Are we inclined towards a strengths-based, feedback-driven, or a more traditional approach to leadership development?
  • Are there current challenges or opportunities within the organisation, such as leadership transitions, diversity and inclusion initiatives, or innovation efforts that need targeted leadership development?
  • What’s our budget for leadership development programs and initiatives?
  • Do we have the internal expertise and capacity to design and deliver programs, or should we consider external providers?

Leap ahead with leadership development

So, are leadership development programs and skills training worth it? The answer is a massive yes! 

An effective leadership development program is beneficial for individual employees. It can also improve your company’s culture, engagement, customer satisfaction and business performance—from productivity levels to skyrocketing revenue!

But it’s important to say that leadership development is a process of ongoing learning and discovery. It’s not a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of thing. Leaders that continue to learn continue to grow. This means they’re better able to navigate the business challenges that come their way successfully. Hello, future success!

Ready to enjoy the benefits a tailored leadership development can bring? Get in touch to learn more about our co-created leadership development programs. PS. Our expertise extends across ELP, 360, strengths profiling and beyond!

Contact the Seed People Consulting team to discuss how we can support developing your diverse culture today!

Meet the author: Stacey Kelly

Stacey brings extensive industry experience and knowledge, as well as the energy, passion and inspiration of a great leader. She previously held senior people/cultures roles in private and public organisations, including Hunter TAFE and Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

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