A leader’s role shouldn’t be taken lightly: after all, they’re the ones who lead teams towards achieving the company’s objectives, through their ability to convey their vision and motivate others to bring it to life. As a key figure in phases of change (which will not diminish in the years to come), an inspirational character and a driving force for innovation, a leader also plays a key role in conflict resolution, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, etc. It’s a huge undertaking, and training is essential for leaders to exercise their role to the best of their abilities. Hence, leadership training for your employees is a must for any company that wants to stay competitive over the long term.
Since leadership is a multi-faceted concept, here are 15 leadership topics, most of them taken from our Ladder of Leadership model, to consider when you’re developing your leaders:
1. Communicating effectively
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful leadership – and that means understanding that the main obstacle to effective communication is the lack of alignment between the intention of a message, the actual message itself, and the way it’s received. By learning about different ways of communication, leaders can ensure that information is transmitted clearly, enhancing understanding and cohesion within the team.
2. Time management
Time management is a fundamental skill for leaders. While many tools claim to help master this limited resource, few work. It’s also crucial for leaders to learn how to:
- Recognize and understand common time wasters and time-consuming situations.
- Organize around these, based on the objectives to be achieved.
- Adapt by knowing how much time is spent on each task, and accepting that life can bring its share of changes (in deadlines, priorities, etc.)
3. Handling stress
Leaders must be role models when it comes to stress management: they set the tone within the team. A mentally and/or physically exhausted manager won’t have the energy to motivate teams, resist challenges, and navigate change. So learning how to alleviate work-related pressures by working on their mental, physical and cognitive health enables leaders to cultivate a healthy work environment, improving their well-being and that of their teams.
4. Conflict resolution
While disagreements within a team are inevitable and can be constructive, unhealthy conflicts (which sap morale and energy, and which some people take pleasure in stirring up) must be avoided at all costs. The leader’s role here will be to identify these “conflict creators”, resist their shenanigans, and redirect their energy towards more positive things. So, a leader needs to be able to act quickly and decisively so relationships don’t deteriorate.
5. Inspiring your team
True leaders are characterized by their ability to inspire, guide and motivate rather than direct and manage. To do this, they must earn the trust of their teams by being vulnerable and authentic! Unlike the aloof and sometimes even frightening managers of the past, today’s leaders have to learn to make more personal, authentic and human connections with their teams.
6. Taking accountability
If they want to build a relationship of trust with teams, leaders must be ready to be “highly accountable”, and accept the consequences of their decisions and actions. This transparent, open attitude will instill a healthy, positive working climate, which will be felt throughout the company.
Effective problem-solving requires proactivity: by ensuring that potential or actual obstacles on the road to achieving objectives are eliminated, leaders take on a decisive role in their organizations. Understanding the different approaches and frameworks available helps them make informed decisions, which promotes operational efficiency.
8. Delegating tasks
Delegation is linked to various skills, including time and stress management. It also demonstrates confidence in your team, and a willingness to develop their skills. Understanding its importance and impact on the work environment is crucial for effective leadership.
9. Building emotional intelligence (EQ)
A sine qua non for today’s leadership, emotional intelligence implies a high level of self-insight, and being open to understanding others. It enables us to cultivate a positive work environment, and a corporate culture where everyone feels validated, listened to and trusted, and does their best. So, a technically expert manager who doesn’t take the time to develop their emotional intelligence will never be able to claim to be a good leader.
10. Thinking strategically
Strategic thinking is a major asset for achieving organizational goals: it involves anticipating threats and opportunities, analyzing the factors impacting the success of the company (or a team) and planning accordingly. Combined with problem-solving, communication and also innovation, it helps create effective leadership.
11. Being agile
In today’s permacrisis socio-economic context, agility is crucial for business survival. Keeping an open mind, embracing change, and fostering cooperation while always aiming to deliver value: this is how we can define agility in leadership. It’s a fundamental skill that needs to be developed and nurtured.
12. Leading decisively
Good leaders know how to bring value to a company and make firm decisions to this end. Aware that their choices have major consequences for organizations and teams, they’ll be able to analyze situations, gather the necessary information, and put their foot down with certainty and confidence.
13. Change management
“There is nothing permanent except change”: this quote from Heraclitus of Ephesus is truer today than ever. Faced with all kinds of challenges all the time, effective leaders need to keep their cool, adapt, and avoid retreating into fear at all costs. Leaders must know how to seize periods of great change as opportunities for growth and learning and know how to communicate this to teams.
Unconscious bias is a reality, and leaders must actively work to overcome this to uphold the values of diversity, equity and inclusion within their teams. This means re-assessing the processes, tools and indicators that can, in one way or another, influence recruitment and employee career paths. Behavioral assessments, such as those from SuccessFinder, help to establish criteria objectively and foster data-driven strategic discussions in talent management.
15. Coaching and mentoring
Managers can’t have an answer for everything and can’t lead without taking their teams’ ideas and opinions into account. By training in different types of coaching (directive, non-directive, situational) and improving their listening and questioning skills, leaders develop a deep understanding of their team members, including their strengths and areas to work on, so they can support their growth.
Investing in the training and development of leaders is a must for any company wanting to stay competitive over the long term since leaders who are well trained in the various aspects that make up their role are essentially better equipped to guide their teams through current and future challenges, foster a healthy working environment, and contribute significantly to overall success.