How to Identify Leaders and Push Leadership Development

Here’s a look at 7 traits that leaders tend to possess and a leadership development plan for bringing out the best in your people.

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How to Identify Leaders and Push Leadership Development

Do you understand the nuances of leadership development? Great leaders can bring out greatness in employees and together they can bring a business to the heights of productivity and profit.

Strong leaders make a positive impact on employees and your business. They help retain talent and increase success. They are masters at strategy execution, and they help establish and maintain a great organizational culture.

Clearly, it’s important to recognize leadership in a job applicant and within your ranks. And once you have recognized a spark of leadership in one of your supervisors, managers or line workers, you must develop them. For leaders to help your company grow, you must help them grow.

In this article, we will look at ways to recognize this rare talent and ways of nurturing it.

7 traits of strong leaders

Great leaders tend to have certain skills, traits and mindsets, and a lot of these aren’t measurable in the traditional sense. Here are 7 traits of leaders that you can look for as you identify candidates for your leadership development program.

1. Drive to improve

They put an emphasis on developing and advancing themselves.

Great leaders are self-starters and self-motivators. As a result, they put a great emphasis on developing their soft and hard leadership skills and advancing themselves in their careers and their personal lives. To help your leaders develop these skills, encourage them to set and prioritize goals. In the beginning, it’s not important how fast they accomplish the tasks and goals, just that they follow their plans, accept when they experience setbacks, and take ownership of any mistakes along the way.

2. Build up others

Great leaders put an emphasis on developing and advancing those they manage.

Their leadership acumen also calls them to develop and advance those around them. Great leaders know that they are only as strong as their weakest employee, so they take the time to coach, mentor, and train the employees they manage and even other individuals who wander into their sphere. To find these leaders, just follow the employees. These are the leaders that employees seek out to get questions answered and input on their ideas for getting a job or project completed. Talking to these individuals about their leadership styles and strategy execution methods can help you create a great leadership training program.

3. Forward-looking

Effective leaders are kings and queens of strategic thinking and organizational innovation.

Effective leaders are always studying the present while looking to the future. These individuals are flexible and willing to change for the betterment of themselves and those around them so that they can lead people toward the future. In turn, their innovative ideas and willingness to learn and adapt new technologies will help lead your company to success.

Effective leaders are always studying the present while looking to the future. These individuals are flexible and willing to change for the betterment of themselves and those around them so that they can lead people toward the future.

4. Decisive

Inspiring, successful leaders are not afraid to take action.

Leaders who inspire and excite are not afraid to take action on what they believe to be best for the company and everyone in it. They keep a pulse on the overall industry and take the time to learn the emerging technologies that could make your business more successful. When they find an idea, concept, or technological advancement, they study and learn. If it seems right, they are not afraid to take the leap.

5. Integrity

They weigh the ethical and civil consequences of every decision.

The best organizational leaders always weigh the ethical and civil consequences of every decision. These individuals are open, honest, and transparent, and they always try to do what is best for their employees and the business’ customers and clients. Because of this mindset, everyone who works with or interacts with this type of leader always knows what they are going to get when it comes to information dissemination, project leadership and strategic innovation.

6. Can make a point

Strong leaders are masters of communication.

Effective leaders are masters of communication. They are able to delegate tasks and jobs to employees while keeping new leaders, senior leaders, and future leaders in the loop. They also listen to questions, comments, and concerns and are thoughtful in their responses. They’re also not afraid to say “I don’t know, let me get back to you.”

7. Authentic

They are responsible and take accountability for their decisions (both good and bad).

Strong leaders take accountability for both good and bad decisions. The effectiveness of these leaders relies on the fact that they are authentic. They don’t blame others for their mistakes. Instead, they own up to a mistake, develop a solution to avoid it in the future, and move forward. In that same light, they also take responsibility for their successes, and if they had help achieving that success, they mention those who helped them. This fosters trust among employees and contributes to a positive and healthy work environment where everyone can learn and thrive.

How to develop leadership skills

People who possess some or even all of those traits might need to refine them. Leadership programs start with understanding what hard and soft skills your future leaders need to advance and grow with your company. Once you know the skills, you can create and implement the right development program — so let’s take a look at how to create programs to develop one or more specific skills.

Identify ambition and motivation

Developing leaders in your organization starts with finding employees who are already ambitious and motivated. These employees are self-starters, need little oversight in their daily jobs, and are eager for more responsibility. You may have already seen them helping coworkers and explaining tasks. These individuals are ideal candidates when it comes to building their career paths so that you can promote them to future leader positions, including team leaders, project managers, and even to future senior positions.

Help people to help themselves

Leaders lead, and the best way to help your future leader take on more responsibility is by having them objectively evaluate themselves. By performing a skills evaluation on themselves, they can determine what they need to get them to the next level. Once they identify specific hard and soft skills, they can develop their own personal leadership program, which may include taking a few professional classes, earning new certificates, and even participating in a mentorship program.

Encourage high-performing employees

As your current and future leaders advance, encourage them to take on additional responsibilities and leadership roles. During this phase, you can have other managers and leaders in your organization mentor and coach these high-performing individuals.

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Bridge any gaps

Talent development can’t be left to the employees alone. This means that you must create and implement leadership development programs to bridge any skills gaps, and it works best if it’s cheered on by upper management and the executives, including HR. Examples of programs to implement would include instruction on:

  • New and existing technologies. Make sure your employees understand how to use the technology that you currently have and create new programs for any new technologies you plan to implement.
  • Communication, including public speaking. Teach your employees and managers how to communicate effectively without judgment. For those who plan to apply for future leadership roles, include classes on public speaking.
  • Effective delegation and task management. Employ courses on how to effectively manage time, determine realistic project deadlines, and how to break large projects down into manageable tasks.
  • New employee onboarding. The future of your company relies on the talent to hire and retain today. Go beyond HR and teach all of your leaders and employees how to properly onboard and train new employees so that they feel welcome.
  • Networking effectively. Teach your employees how to make industry contacts and emphasize the need for employees to attend conferences and workshops with other individuals within the industry.
  • Industry news. Keep your employees up to date with short programs on industry developments. These can be short videos that you provide once a week or once a month to help everyone in your company feel more connected to your industry. This could even spark conversations on innovation in your organization.

The value of investing in leadership development

When organizations invest in leadership development, it’s a win/win situation for your company and your employees. You’ll gain access to the best talent in the industry because word will spread about your leadership training and development initiatives. Your leaders and other employees will learn valuable skill sets, including communication skills, strategic thinking, and organizational development. You’ll also retain employees longer and be able to quickly promote from within.

To learn more about how to develop leadership training programs, check out Zenefits’ Workest resource center, where you can learn the latest initiatives on talent training and development.

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