Leading teams is never an easy prospect. It’s even more difficult if you don’t have the skills to back you up in the most challenging times. There’s an old saying that people are born to be leaders, but in reality, this is simply a throwback to days gone by when people were literally born into positions of power. In the modern business world, leaders aren’t born but developed.
There are some natural qualities that lend themselves to good leadership, of course. Traits like confidence, a strong personality, and the gift of public speaking are some that come to mind, but even some of those qualities can be taught.
It’s all of the associated management skills that make a truly effective leader, and these are learned through training, development, and experience. So, if you’re looking to develop the leaders of the future, one of the keys is leadership training.
What is Leadership Training?
Leadership training comes in many different forms, and in truth, there’s no one method that works better than others. Rather, true leadership skills are developed through a wide range of learning techniques.
First, leaders actually learn by example. You don’t just start your career as a leader, and chances are you’ve experienced a range of management styles before you become a leader yourself. The examples set by others are where you discover the traits you’d like to exhibit, and also learn what doesn’t work.
In addition, you can start to develop managers in your company with leadership courses online. Online team leadership courses are designed to teach and build upon the basics of good leadership, such as change management, conflict resolution, negotiating with influence, and a whole range of other skills. Learning online is great because you can schedule people for more intensive, lengthy courses to work on overtime, or alternatively look for leadership short courses.
Finally, leaders often develop through experience. On-the-job training is an important part of any skill development, whether it be leadership qualities or technical skills. Giving people the opportunity to experience leadership roles is excellent for their development and prepares them for more permanent opportunities when they arise.
All sorts of leadership training have a few things in common though, so let’s take a look at the skills every leader should be learning.
Leadership essentials courses are where new and emerging leaders start to understand the basics of what it takes to be a manager. Needless to say, nobody should be thrown into a leadership position without knowing the basics, so these basic skills are the bare minimum a leader should have.
The essentials mainly focus on understanding rather than skills. Understanding the role of a leader, the differences between leaders and managers, and of course the key responsibilities of a leader. In these leadership essentials courses, people can also learn some of the basics such as building relationships, setting expectations, delegation, and developing a goal-oriented approach.
When combined with on-the-job training, job shadowing, and other internal leadership development programs, courses focusing on the essentials give new leaders a great grounding to take the next step in their career.
Another crucial aspect of leadership is managing change. Change is always constant in any business. In fact, businesses that are resistant to change often find themselves falling behind the pack pretty quickly.
That’s why it’s so important to have leaders in your business who are excited about the change. Embracing it and bringing others along for the ride is a great starting point on the road to success. However, change is extremely difficult for some people, so it’s up to leaders to know how to manage it effectively.
Change management courses are designed to help leaders understand the importance of change, and more importantly to motivate others to accept change. The most difficult part of leading through change is to help those who are resistant to change, so these skills are invaluable.
Leading teams effectively requires a strong focus on performance. However, many inexperienced leaders confuse performance management with micromanagement. When developing leadership skills, understanding how to create a performance culture is integral to the role.
One of the ways to manage performance is through effective coaching. Every company does this differently, but there are still some basics that every leader should know. Skills like giving and receiving feedback, interpreting and explaining performance metrics, and helping staff members take responsibility for their own performance are all things a leader should learn.
Effective performance coaching goes a long way to creating a performance culture in teams.
An unfortunate side of leadership is the inevitable event that you need to deal with conflict. It may be with members of your team, or it could be with your own leadership group. Leaders are often required to deal with escalations from irate customers or clients, so having these skills make life a whole lot easier.
There are leadership courses online that deal specifically with conflict management, and they’re well worth exploring. In fact, these courses aren’t just for new leaders but can be beneficial to people who have held management positions for some time. Leaders can always continue to develop their conflict management skills, no matter how experienced they are.
Strategic Thinking and Planning
Leaders need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Depending on the management structure in your company, you probably want your leaders to have input into the strategic direction of the company. However, higher-level thinking isn’t something that comes naturally for all leaders.
When you consider the range of duties a leader has, it’s natural to sometimes get bogged down with daily issue management. That’s why strategic thinking and planning is such a crucial skill to learn, and of course, the ability to make time for it.
Leaders have a strong knowledge of your business. They also have a close relationship with staff, and they’re also closer to customer relations than higher-level executives. That means they have a lot to offer on the strategic front, so you want them to be good at this aspect of leadership. It also gives them valuable skills to help take the next steps in their career.
We’ve talked about a lot of different skills that leaders need to have. You might be wondering where they’re expected time to put all of those skills to use. Well, the reality is, leadership is a busy role. You’re dealing with staff issues, performance management, staying on top of KPIs, attending meetings, motivating staff, developing your teams as well as the more strategic parts of the role we just mentioned. So, one could argue that the most important skill a leader needs to learn is time management.
With so many competing priorities, it’s easy to see how things can fall through the cracks or not be done to the highest level. The best way to combat that is by teaching your leaders some vital time management skills. New leaders, as well as highly experienced ones, can always benefit from time management courses. Even those who’ve done similar courses before can get a lot from a refresher because, in a busy environment, it’s easy to let time management fall by the wayside.
Building High-Performing Teams
Finally, learning how to build high-performing teams is a major skill for leaders to learn. Also, it’s one of the skills that leaders struggle with the most because it’s quite a broad proposition. Building high performing teams can happen in so many ways. In fact, it probably takes all of the skills we’ve discussed here.
Building high-achieving teams require a lot of individual skills coming together, and in some ways, it’s what leadership is all about. As a leader, you’re there to support teams to achieve results, and it’s hard to do that without building a great culture. That’s exactly what your leaders can learn in a course on building high-performing teams.