Having the right leaders is a key component to building long-term stability, creating a competitive culture, and attracting the market’s top talent. However, some businesses feel there is a leadership skills gap within their workforce.
According to Brandon Hall’s 2020 Leadership Development Study, 59% of large organizations believe their leaders possess the competencies and emotional intelligence to successfully drive business goals over the next couple of years, while the number drops to 54% for small businesses. The study also found the most impactful variable of insufficient leadership is poor succession planning and ineffective talent scouting within companies. Yet despite this disparity, 65% of employees say advancement opportunity is an essential component of a job, according to Survey Monkey. With employees wanting to advance and employers needing to close the skills gap, leadership development is paramount to bridging the divide and inspiring the next group of leaders.
The Importance of Developing Leaders
With Baby Boomers retiring or reaching retirement age in droves and Gen X being substantially smaller, developing young professionals is imperative for effective succession planning. However, according to a studyby the Human Resources Professionals Association, 63% of Millennials feel a lack of leadership development.
Focusing on Key Leadership Skills
While charisma and innate personality traits cannot be trained, other soft skills that are key to successful leadership can be developed.
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
The World Economic Forum considers EI as one of the top job skills in 2020, with 80% of employees considering EI crucial for developing their careers, according to the Levo Institute. However, the Human Capital Institute found only 37% of businesses use EI to help inform their leadership development programs. Closing this gap should be a main focus for businesses. EI includes these sub-skills: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation.
Most issues in business can be boiled down to a communication breakdown between leadership and employees. In fact, a Harris Poll study found that 91% of employees say that communication is the one critical skill their leaders lack. The study also found that not making time to meet with employees, giving unclear directions, and refusing to speak with subordinates were among the top issues.
Appreciation and Recognition
Recognition is one of the best tools for building an engaging culture that attracts top talent. However, without a leader who shows appreciation and recognizes great work, employees tend to look for the door. According to a 10-year O.C. Tanner Learning Group study, 79% of employees quit due to lack of appreciation. Building employee morale through recognition helps engagement and overall performance. According to SurveyMonkey, 43% of employees say feeling appreciated builds their confidence at work.
Key Elements to Include in Leadership Development
When developing employees, from emerging leaders to middle management to senior leadership, there are specific elements to consider for creating effective leadership development plans. Leadership consulting group Flash Point highlights several elements to consider for each level of leadership development:
Emerging Leaders – self-assessment, leading a project, group coaching, mentorship
Middle Management – exposure to senior leadership, industry involvement, individual coaching, cross-functional training, volunteer or professional board membership, 360-degree assessments or peer/leader reviews
Senior Leaders – individual coaching, executive team coaching, 360-degree assessments, executive education programs
Planning for The Future
Implementing leadership development elements every day, as well as developing good training programs, is a perfect place for businesses to begin developing leaders internally. According to Brandon Hall’s 2020 Leadership Development Study, businesses plan on implementing these plans in the next one to two years to improve leadership within their organization:
- Increased focus on coaching and mentoring at all leader levels – 57%
- Get top leaders more active in developing leaders – 55%
- Develop or enhance an organization-wide leadership model for how leaders think and act – 54%
- Improve alignment between leadership development programs and business goals – 52%
- Improve measurement of leadership development effectiveness – 48%
- More investment in developing leaders at all leader levels – 48%
With 57% of businesses planning to focus on coaching and mentoring at all leader levels, it’s clear that leadership development is imperative for all professionals within an organization. And while 55% plan on activating top leaders in their development efforts, more businesses need to embrace these elements to ensure their organizations are set up for the future with talent at each level leading the way.
Do you have a leadership development plan? What have you done to developing leaders of all levels within your organization? Let us know in the comments section below!