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Being a manager is hard and oftentimes demanding. It’s about managing different personalities while maintaining team cohesion. Leadership is a responsibility that doesn’t always come with the right training, as employees might be promoted to leadership positions without focused leadership training, leaving them with the title but lacking the skill to face common leadership obstacles.

Center for Leadership study found that leaders consistently face the same top challenges no matter where they are in the world:

  • improving efficiencies 
  • increasing productivity
  • motivating and inspiring others
  • developing and leading their teams
  • guiding change
  • managing stakeholders

Leaders are made, not born. It will be an uphill battle if they’re not given the guidance and tools they need to succeed in their role. 

But apart from a company providing necessary tools for success, emotional intelligence plays an important role in leadership. Leaders need to understand their own emotions or else they’ll lack the self-awareness to give their people feedback to make a positive impact. 

Luckily, if you’re committed to making your managers and supervisors the best they can be, there are tools and resources to lean on.


What is Leadership Development? 

Leadership development is the process that helps expand the capacity of individuals to perform in leadership roles within organizations. It focuses on developing critical skill sets needed to be more impactful and successful leaders. 

Organizations that intentionally develop their leaders using a tool like The Birkman Method help leaders be more aware of their behaviors and how they impact their company–helping them inspire their team, make better decisions, and ultimately drive organizational success.

It's up to you to step in and give your current leaders the tools, training, and guidance they need to succeed. 

At the same time, those employees you’ve identified as potential future leaders shouldn’t be forgotten. Acknowledge them and start creating a development path and learning journey for your high-potentials before becoming leaders so that they’re ready to step up when the time comes.


The Impact of Leadership Development

How your leaders perform directly influences team outcomes, therefore, directly affecting the overall performance of your organization.. Your organization will struggle if managers cannot inspire or support their team, deal with conflict appropriately, or adapt to new challenges or demands. 

Companies that have leadership development programs in place are able to close any talent pipeline gaps, develop contributors into effective leaders, and continue to help their current leaders grow.


Leadership Development Helps to: 


1. Cultivate emotional intelligence

Leaders can only limit counterproductive and potentially destructive behavior when they’re able to understand and manage their own emotions. This self-awareness helps leaders understand different leadership styles and how they impact different individuals and, ultimately, team performance. But other's awareness is just as important–the ability to understand a colleague or employee’s behaviors, recognize their feelings, and meet their needs so they can be their best selves. Emotional intelligence is key to fostering a productive, happy, and healthy place of work.


2. Overcome blind spots

We all have blind spots that may be invisible to us but obvious to others. When stressed, do they become domineering? What about insensitive? Are they aware this is happening?

A leader whose assertiveness is a strength in closing deals may find this same strength tramples the needs of their employees to voice their own opinions.

If your leaders can identify and actively work on improving these unproductive behaviors, they’ll not only better themselves but encourage and influence their team to do the same. It’s important they commit to both themselves and their team to change their behaviors and model positive behaviors.


3. Resolve conflict in the team

The best teams are made up of diverse individuals with a wide range of beliefs, viewpoints, and perspectives. Conflict is a natural result of this, and it shouldn’t be viewed as negative. Developing your leaders will ensure they’re able to use differences in perceptions to their team’s advantage when it comes to strategic thinking, collaboration, task assignments, and project completion. 

When leaders facilitate both unhealthy and healthy conflict between team members, the team can constructively find a better way forward together.


4. Improve communication skills

A good leader knows that the candid communication style that works for one employee won’t necessarily work for every employee. They’re able to adapt their communication style with awareness and ease to foster healthy relationships based on trust. This goes beyond the traditional skills of written and spoken communication, and extends to listening to team members to uncover hidden needs that might affect productivity and engagement.

It is also more than just being able to communicate effectively. This skill set also includes listening skills, observational skills, and the ability to read into what people mean (even if they’re unclear in the spoken or written word)--all of which are important for tailoring feedback for employees.


5. Improve decision-making skills

Leaders make decisions daily. It’s important to uncover how behavior drives decision-making. A decision can be big or small–figuring out who has ultimate accountability on the team for a task to get done, deciding how to handle a situation with an employee based on their needs, planning how to take on an action-oriented approach on an urgent matter, or building strategic plans to reach the team’s goals.

A leader’s decision-making process affects not only their direct reports, but also the overall business. They need to be able to make the best choices, understanding why they make the choices they do and how their perceptions and expectations influence them. 


6. Foster a positive team culture

The culture of a team affects how well employees perform. Leaders must make sure it remains a positive and supportive one by encouraging diversity, collaboration, and cooperation. 

One way to do this is by developing the team’s purpose: the guide for what they do and why. A team’s purpose statement provides direction, but leaders still need to create clarity around roles and responsibilities, all while building an environment of psychological safety–do this by being authentic, cultivating curiosity, and encouraging risk. When an entire organization embraces and supports this type of team culture, employee engagement, performance, retention, and alignment benefit.


Executives Should Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement

No matter the level your leaders are at, they should never stop learning. Development should be a priority for your company. Helping leaders become self and others-aware, as well as leveling up their skills, gives them a competitive advantage, helping you retain your top performers. 

Organizations that aim to create an organizational culture of continuous improvement stay ahead of their competition. 

Equip your managers, potential leaders, and high-potentials with the skills and personality data to successfully guide their teams towards positive business outcomes, navigate complex challenges, adjust their behaviors, and take accountability for their work styles. 

Birkman has a range of leadership development solutions to make your people great. Connect with our team to start building your organization’s future today.

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