Nurturing leadership is increasingly becoming critical in today’s organizational management. Leadership experts, management consultants, and even organizational academicians who spend the rest of their life analyzing leadership skills have identified leadership as a key factor of organizational growth and success.
The success or failure of a company depends largely on the people working in the company, from the lowest rank employee to the highest in ranking including the owners and or founders.
With that said, we’ve compiled helpful ways to improve your organizational leadership skills.
Why Should We Improve Our Leadership Skills?
As competition intensifies across the business landscape, ambitious and visionary companies are sparing no effort to develop the right leadership skills within their organizational ecosystems. Between 2018 and 2020 alone, companies in North America have consistently spent an estimated $170 billion per year on average in programs targeted at improving organizational leadership skills.
But even as companies pump in the money to develop solid leaders across organizations, they still fear a worrying leadership shortage that is likely to surpass 80% in the short term. What this shows is that there is an urgent need for organizations to prioritize leadership and make it a core function of organizational structures.
What Exactly Is Leadership?
Leadership, in the context of an organization, is the ability of an individual to influence the performance of others. This, therefore, means that everyone in the organization has the potential to become a leader. Whether they are working in the store, quality control, production, or communications, their action and performance have a direct impact on those they interact with during work.
The approach to leadership might vary from organization to organization depending on objectives. But some aspects of leadership such as leadership behaviors, leadership roles, and leadership style will always form part of the most common essential elements of leadership that each organization will have to grapple with.
Why Many Organizations Might Be Getting It Wrong
One misjudgment that companies continue to make is the usual assumption that leadership improvement should always be targeted at C-suite executives. It is important to note that C-suite executives are simply part of the organizational structure. Other professionals should not be ignored because they too need their leadership skills developed.
In the workplace, all staff are both followers and leaders. Even the guys at the very top, including the CEO and even the board, are followers as well because they report to the most important group of people i.e customers.
The Role of Leadership Development Strategy
Without a clear strategy on how to improve your organizational leadership skills, even potential leaders with obvious leadership traits might end up not developing into fully-fledged leaders who can take up higher roles. The goal of leadership development is to potentially transform everyone within your organization from just being an employee to being an employee leader. You want everyone to feel and think like a leader in their roles.
Here now are tips on the various leadership development initiatives you can practice to improve your organizational leadership skills.
1. Utilize leadership development programs
A leadership development program is one of the quickest ways to improve your organizational leadership skills. Of course, experience, as well as practice, are equally essential, but these might often tend to be too slow. It takes time for an individual to gain the necessary comprehensive experience through practice. So it is important that as the people in your organization work hard on their daily tasks and gain experience, you equally need to reinforce this with high targeted leadership development programs for effective leadership skills.
Some of the programs you can consider for effective organizational leadership skills include an advanced degree for example an organizational leadership degree, a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, and a Learning management program. Others in the line of academics include certification courses that feature specialized Organizational leadership programs. These will impart valuable leadership qualities in your manpower and ensure they grow fast enough into competent leaders within the organization.
2. Evaluate your organizational strengths and weaknesses
To develop an effective leader, one of the steps that will deliver valuable results is the proactive assessment of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Successful leaders are guaranteed to emerge from effective processes that focus on improving weaknesses while capitalizing on the strengths.
As part of your business strategy, let every employee understand the areas they need to improve and the areas where they excel. Every individual within your organization has both a weak side as well as a strong side. In order to identify these areas, they need to not only understand themselves but also be honest about the areas they truly feel they need assistance. While the organization is responsible for facilitating this process, each individual employee must be willing to take charge of their journey to become transformative leaders.
The more an employee is aware of the areas that need work, the easier it will be to identify where they naturally fit within the organizational leadership structure. Since the aim is to achieve growth in order to produce strong individual leaders, the focus should always be on professional tendencies and not so much on personalities. The huge shortage of leaders that the current corporate world is facing can be quickly solved through actions such as individual personal reflection at all levels in order to fill the workplace with a new generation of leaders.
3. Entrench Accountability
Professional accountability is a great tool for team dynamics and one of the ways to improve your organizational leadership skills. High-performing teams are accountable for their actions and how they contribute to the overall performance of the entire organization.
To achieve effective teams, each individual team member including the executive team ought to be responsible across a wide range of areas including communication, results, interactions with their team members, interaction with customers, etc. When every team member feels responsible, everyone feels the weight of the company’s objectives on their shoulders. Every individual knows that their performance matters and therefore their value to the organization is not in vain.
Professional accountability can be instilled within an organization through team-building events. Be sure to include senior teams during such events.
4. Embrace Change
Change is ever constant and this is something that organizations should always be ready to embrace as a way to improve their organizational leadership. The workplace culture, tools, approaches, and methods are changing quickly. We are now in the era of artificial intelligence, data sciences, robotics, and so on. With all these changes happening, organizations cannot do things the same way, and this includes leadership development. Each company must start to think about how they will incorporate the new trends in managing their teams to achieve the organizational goals as well as the career goals of their employees.
Let REAL Workplace Culture Change be an ongoing part of your overall organizational culture. Let employees understand how new changes will affect their personal and professional life and help them prepare for the transformation. Persons keen to improve their leadership skills can really take advantage of the numerous changes currently sweeping across the business world.
People transitioning from one career to another can benefit from a change management program or career change guidance. Consider courses that focus on change management, especially those that are offered by recognized schools. Some of the universities you can explore include the University of Massachusetts Global, Indiana Wesleyan University, Northeastern University, National University, Villanova University, and Brandman University.
5. Develop strong emotional intelligence within the workplace
Emotional intelligence is an individual’s ability to internalize the emotions of other people and act or behave in a way that takes the emotions of others into account.
This is an important organizational skill that needs to be constantly inculcated and nurtured to the level where each employee embraces it as part of the organizational culture. A leader with impeccable emotional intelligence will be able to quickly take note of the needs of their followers. This enables you to get on the path to building long-term relationships that will go a long way to improving the overall leadership of the organization.
6. Encourage small talk within the organization
You might be surprised to learn that small talk is one of the most underrated techniques that can be easily applied to improve your organizational leadership skills. Encourage employees to engage frequently in small talk as they go about their work and interact with fellow employees within the organization. Most people enjoy working with people that they find easy to talk to. Nobody wants to work with individuals they find difficult to face and talk to.
For a leader, the more you are liked by those above and below you, the more they will listen to you, and the more they are willing to execute your directives. Create an organizational behavior or culture where small talk is encouraged and celebrated. Going for that little tea break? Take a few minutes to take to colleagues, regardless of the topic. Discuss games, experiences, catch on work, or forthcoming occasions. It does not have to be always about work. The most important thing is to talk, gain insights and improve interpersonal perceptions.
Of course, traditional management has always been viewed as one that is all work and less talk. But as we have already seen, change is seeping through organizations. Modern business management is called upon to try new frontiers in pursuit of leadership development, and small talk makes the cut.
7. Facilitate continuous learning
Great business leaders with the most valuable skills are those who are constantly seeking to learn. Facilitate and encourage everyone within the organization to constantly attain new skills that are relevant to the demands of their roles within the organization.
Employee performance is largely based on the value of skills a the personal level. There is no way of achieving or sharpening skills that is more effective than learning. As part of your leadership strategy, encourage individual employees to get out of their comfort zone and learn new skills that are critical to achieving high-level performance. Provide resources and encourage the use of valuable email newsletters, for example.
8. Nurture a strong leadership mindset within the organization
Good leadership starts from the mind before it can even be translated into actions. Anyone keen to become a leader ought to not only start thinking like a leader but must also behave like one.
No one becomes a leader by waiting for opportunities to reach them. It is therefore important that you create leadership development programs that motivate your employees to start thinking like leaders. Sometimes leadership needs to be discovered. There are individuals who can make great leaders but they don’t know this. Some individuals are reluctant leaders, meaning they can make good leaders but are hesitant to step up. These groups of people need some sort of ignition, and this is where mindset comes in.
Create opportunities where individuals can volunteer in projects that polish and improve leadership skills. The projects need not be directly related to their line of work though.
While all these tips will help you make great milestones in terms of improving your organizational leadership skills, remember that the most effective leadership skills will be attained through the proactive practice of these strategies. Never practice once then forget about it until the next time you feel that there is a need. As they say, practice makes perfect. We say continuous practice will earn you perfect leaders to steer your organization forward and ahead of the competition.
It is our hope that you have learned valuable methods you can use to achieve optimal leadership skills within your organization. Are there other methods you have applied and realized great results within your organization? What is your experience?
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