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How To Train Leaders

How To Train Leaders? Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Leadership training plays a vital role in shaping the success of organizations. Great leaders can influence others, drive positive culture changes, and motivate teams to achieve exceptional results.

The question of whether leadership can be learned or if existing leaders need ongoing training is a topic of debate. While some individuals may possess natural leadership qualities, training and development are essential to enhance their skills and ensure they are equipped to handle the challenges of the modern workplace. In today’s business environment, leadership styles and requirements are constantly evolving. Therefore, you must invest in leadership development programs to stay ahead and cultivate a pool of capable leaders who can drive their organizations toward success.

Leadership development is a multidimensional process encompassing various aspects such as communication skills, leadership style, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. 

Effective leadership in the modern workplace goes beyond traditional hierarchical structures. It involves creating an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning. Leaders must possess strong communication skills to effectively convey their vision and goals to the team. They should be able to listen actively, understand their team members’ needs and concerns, and provide clear and constructive feedback.

Leadership style is another critical aspect of leadership training. Different situations may require different leadership styles. For example, a transformational leadership style may effectively drive change and inspire creativity. In contrast, a situational leadership style may be more appropriate when dealing with different individuals and tasks. Developing a versatile leadership style involves:

  • Self-awareness.
  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.
  • Adapting to the specific needs of the situation.

The Impact of Effective Leadership on Organizational Success

Leadership has a profound impact on organizational success. As Harvard Business Review found, effective leadership is one of the key factors contributing to high-performing organizations. Good leadership positively affects organizational performance, employee engagement, and productivity.

Leaders who communicate the organization’s vision and goals effectively inspire their team members to perform at their best. They create a positive work culture that fosters creativity, collaboration, and innovation. Additionally, effective leaders are skilled at developing and nurturing talent within their organizations, which contributes to a sustainable pipeline of future leaders.

Moreover, leaders who prioritize the development and growth of their team members create a sense of loyalty and commitment, leading to increased employee retention. This, in turn, reduces turnover costs and fosters a stable and motivated workforce. Therefore, investing in leadership training is not only important for the individual growth of leaders but also crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of organizations.

Training leaders requires a strategic approach that involves identifying leadership potential, assessing gaps in leadership ability, tying in succession plans and career development, creating a roadmap, and providing opportunities to apply learnings. By investing in leadership development programs and training, you can cultivate a pool of capable leaders who can drive their teams toward success.

Identify leadership potential

Identifying leadership potential is the first step in developing leaders. This involves assessing individuals for their capability to lead effectively. Some strategies to identify leadership potential include:

  • Talent development programs that provide opportunities for employees to showcase their leadership skills and potential.
  • Succession planning is when high-potential employees are identified early on and provided with the necessary training and development opportunities.
  • Assessing employees’ performance and potential through performance appraisals and talent reviews.
  • Observing employees’ behavior and performance in various situations to determine their ability to handle challenges and inspire others.

Where do teams mess up while identifying leadership potential? 

Identifying the right people to nurture into leaders ensures your organization has a robust talent pipeline. Yet, at times, the best of intentions fall short in actions. 

One common mistake is focusing too much on outwardly charismatic or outspoken individuals while overlooking quieter team members who may possess strong leadership qualities, such as empathy, problem-solving skills, or strategic thinking.

Another mistake is solely relying on performance metrics, such as sales numbers or project outcomes, to identify leadership potential. While performance is important, it doesn’t always correlate with leadership ability, and other factors like teamwork, mentorship, and communication skills should also be considered.

Moreover, it’s essential to recognize that effective leadership can take many forms and that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Mistakes can occur when you only look for individuals who exhibit a particular style or personality traits rather than embracing the diversity of leadership styles within a team.

Read more: High potentials vs high performers: 10 steps for managers to make them reach heights

How can Risely help you avoid this?

First, Risely works with a comprehensive leadership skill assessment. So, you will not work solely on the five skills that are easy to track; Risely enables evaluation of close to 20 core people management skills with self and team assessments for all your managers at scale – so that you catch all the perspectives you need to groom your managers into effective people leaders. Moreover, Risely ensures that you see insights at the sub-skill level and, thus, create interventions that match the needs of your team. Plus, Risely is entirely customizable, so your managers do not need to worry about matching up a particular style of leadership training or management quirks. Instead, it suits their context and challenges in real time, leaving behind the era of one-size-fits-all leadership training. 

Assess gaps in leadership ability 

Assessing the gaps in their leadership ability is important to understand where you need to help potential leaders. This involves identifying the skills and competencies that must be developed to enhance their capabilities through training leaders. Some ways to assess gaps in leadership ability include:

  • Conducting leadership assessments and 360-degree feedback to gather insights from peers, subordinates, and superiors.
  • Reviewing performance reviews and identifying areas where leaders may need additional support or training.
  • Analyzing the results of talent development programs and identifying areas where leaders may need further development.
  • Identifying gaps in soft skills such as communication, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence and hard skills such as strategic thinking and decision-making.

Where do assessments of leadership ability go wrong?

First, think of leadership assessments in your organization. How are they conducted? Do the managers self-report, or do their seniors share feedback? Many times, organizations lack the capacity to build 360-degree assessments of leadership skills and miss out on insights. 

Similarly, the assessments could miss out on core leadership areas like managers’ guidance and coaching abilities. Hard skills are easier to track and take over the spotlight in assessment season. Leaders’ effectiveness can vary depending on the context and environment in which they operate. Neglecting contextual factors such as organizational culture, team dynamics, and industry trends can lead to inaccurate assessments of leadership gaps.

How does Risely improve leadership skill assessments for L&D teams?

Risely’s leadership assessments incorporate self-scores and anonymous feedback from a manager’s team members. As the admin, you can get insights at the sub-skill level for every manager in your organization and help them in a way that suits their context. With Risely, administering leadership skill assessments is the easiest thing ever.  Moreover, the all-in-one skill center shares a leader’s growth in a particular area over time as well as against all the other leaders in your company.

Check them out here today for free: Leadership Skills Assessments

Tie in your succession plans and their career plans

Tying in succession plans and career plans is crucial for training leaders. By aligning succession plans with career development, you can create a clear pathway for employees to progress in their leadership roles. Some strategies for tying in succession plans and career plans include:

  • Providing opportunities for employees to take on stretch assignments and projects that align with their career goals and help them develop new skills.
  • Offering mentoring and coaching programs where experienced leaders can guide and support emerging leaders in their career development.
  • Creating individual development plans that outline the steps and resources needed for employees to achieve their career goals.
  • Identify potential career paths within the organization and provide employees with the necessary training and development opportunities to progress along those paths.

Where do succession planning and leadership development diverge?

Succession planning and leadership development are two distinct areas that hardly meet for many organizations. Yet, success lies in ensuring that you are preparing leaders for the roles that your organization needs in the future. 

One common mistake is not aligning the organization’s succession planning efforts with individual leaders’ career goals and aspirations. When succession plans do not consider leaders’ career aspirations, it can result in disengagement and talent retention issues. Plus, leadership development must align well with the organizational values and ethos.

Moreover, successful integration of succession and career plans often requires mentorship and sponsorship from senior leaders. Failing to provide mentorship and sponsorship opportunities can limit leaders’ access to guidance, support, and advocacy for career advancement. But, it’s a hard truth that, at times, mentorship is just not possible: the senior leadership may not have the time, interest, or guidance ability, and there could be a mismatch of personalities and challenges in rapport building – all leading toward failure of a potential leader. 

How does Risely help you bridge the gap between succession plans and leadership development? 

First, Risely works with the policies and values central to your team. Risely’s AI coach, Merlin, who offers real-time personalized assistance to people managers, is trained to tie up your ideas with its management expertise while sharing guidance with your managers. Second, it removes the trouble of finding and setting up mentors in an already overwhelmed organization. Every manager on your team has a coach suited to their context and challenges, and they resolve them as and when they arise, leaving hesitation and delays outside the room.

Create a roadmap 

Creating a roadmap is essential for the training leaders well. A roadmap outlines the steps and milestones leaders need to achieve to reach their full potential. It provides a clear path for leadership training and ensures leaders receive the necessary training and support. 

Where do leadership development roadmaps go wrong?

Most commonly, roadmaps take a one-size-fits-all approach, overlooking the diverse needs, strengths, and aspirations of individual leaders.  Another common mistake is creating a roadmap that lacks clarity regarding goals, milestones, and timelines. Without clear direction, leaders may feel lost or uncertain about progressing along their development journey.

Plus, effective roadmaps include mechanisms for monitoring leaders’ progress and adjusting development plans as needed. Failing to monitor progress results in missed opportunities for course correction and improvement.

How can Risely fine-tune your leadership development roadmap?

Individual development plans for every leader on your team can seem like a daunting task, but Risely gets you sorted super quickly. Risely offers customized learn journeys that engage with the leader at their level. Challenges, context, and development needs come together to build a path that suits their journey at a pace that does not hinder their workflow. 

Plus, heavy leadership training initiatives often annoy managers who already have big task lists to handle. Risely offers support in the flow of work; whatever workspace your organization uses becomes the home of learning, and any language your managers feel comfortable using becomes the mode of coaching.

Give opportunities to apply learnings 

Giving opportunities to apply learnings is crucial for the development of leaders. It allows them to practice and refine their skills in real-world situations. Some strategies for giving opportunities to apply learnings include:

  • Providing stretch assignments and projects that challenge leaders to apply their skills and knowledge in new and complex situations.
  • Offering training programs with practical exercises and simulations to simulate real-world leadership scenarios.
  • Assign mentors or coaches who can provide guidance and feedback on leaders’ performance and help them apply what they have learned in their day-to-day work.
  • Encouraging leaders to take on leadership roles in cross-functional teams or industry associations to gain exposure and experience in different settings.

What are the common challenges managers face when creating learning opportunities?

Providing opportunities for leaders to apply what they have learned reinforces development efforts and fosters growth. However, there are common things that could be improved at this stage. Most commonly, it offers limited or narrowly focused opportunities for leaders to apply what they have learned. As every manager is at a different stage of growth, size exercises just don’t cut it, no matter how well-designed they are. Opportunities for applying learnings should be closely aligned with leaders’ development goals and areas of focus.

Moreover, opportunities to apply learning must be accompanied by mechanisms for gathering feedback and encouraging reflection. Without feedback and reflection, leaders struggle to identify areas for improvement and miss out on valuable learning opportunities.

How does Risely create meaningful learning experiences for your managers? 

As Risely’s leadership training journey is customized to suit the context and challenges of your manager, the nuggets provided at each step follow the same pattern. Each day comes with something new—a quiz, short informative videos, team exercises, case studies—that is relevant to the manager’s present skills in focus. The story does not end here; managers can always turn to Merlin and discuss what happened, how they could have performed better, and what behaviors they should continue for success. 

In conclusion, training leaders is crucial for organizational growth and success in today’s dynamic business landscape. You can effectively nurture future leaders by identifying leadership potential, assessing gaps, and providing growth opportunities. Cultivating core leadership qualities and implementing mentorship programs are key strategies for developing managerial skills.

Overcoming challenges like resistance to change and ensuring ongoing engagement are vital in this process. Continuous learning and development initiatives play a significant role in creating a pipeline of skilled leaders. Organizations can secure a strong foundation for long-term success by investing in leadership training the right way.

Add more value to leadership training with assessments!

Check out Risely’s range of leadership skill assessments for people managers for free today.

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