Because so few people are born natural leaders, most employees need practice and guidance to develop their leadership skills. Being a good leader will help employees move their careers forward and increase their marketable skills. Here are six proven ways to develop better leaders at work.
One of the most important leadership skills is active listening. Without listening skills, managers will struggle with eliciting feedback, understanding how employees feel and following up on tasks. Employees need to be properly trained how to effectively listen through understanding the complex roles that diverse backgrounds and personality types play in interpersonal communication.
Notable leaders often excel at motivating others, so managers should be given opportunities to analyze how ambition, passion and motivation affect their team’s productivity and work attitudes. When employees start to lose their unique motivations, managers must be prepared to proactively energize and motivate them. In order to motivate, managers must know what their employees want so they can help them achieve their goals.
An easy way to develop leadership skills is to simply allow emerging leaders to interact with current leaders. Most companies accomplish this through maintaining supervisor trainee or one-on-one mentor programs. Sometimes, the most effective way is to just give employees opportunities to shadow current leaders for a few days. When employees are exposed to leaders this way, they will quickly learn unwritten skills and knowledge.
Give employees plenty of opportunities to challenge themselves by giving them difficult or unfamiliar tasks. This teaches humility, expands worldviews and tests core competencies. For example, having non-technical supervisors work with IT personnel will help them appreciate the complexity of technology. On the other hand, having IT personnel work with supply chain managers will create new found respect for analytical and organizational skills needed in the logistics world.
Most managers make the mistake of focusing on conformity instead of encouraging empowerment. Be sure to allow employees to take the initiative to creatively problem solve issues with the support of a mentor. A great way to do this is to encourage involvement with safety and quality committees. Employees who actively participate will take on extra responsibilities and thus enjoy higher levels of competency and confidence.
A final way to develop future leaders is through continually encouraging employees to pursue professional development and continuing education. Many companies financially support this through offering tuition reimbursement for approved programs. Alternatively, companies can simply hire job candidates who have excellent academic backgrounds, such as an online master’s in organizational leadership.
Developing leadership skills will increase the company’s safety and productivity levels as well as employee engagement levels. These tips can get you started in the right direction.
This is a guest post by Anita Ginsburg. Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about business, education and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn't writing.