The 5 things you need in your leadership training

A breakdown of the five things you need to make sure your leadership training works.

Leadership is often the difference between success and failure. And yet despite both the prevalence and the importance of leadership, most of us initially learn leadership skills by accident.

I started my first company while in high school and quickly learned that being a straight-A student does not make someone a good leader. I also learned that if you want to encourage great leadership, you need to have a conscious focus on it. In this way, you can help empower managers with the tools they need to succeed in today’s complex business environments.

How much attention are you paying to training and nurturing your organisation’s leadership capabilities?

Ray Carvey, Executive VP of Corporate Learning at Harvard Business Publishing, says that the focus of leadership training now must be on “preparing leaders to anticipate what’s coming next so they are ready to act. They must be plugged into their customers, competitors and markets, and be comfortable making decisions, even in the face of ambiguity.”

This is great advice, but what if you can’t conjure up a crystal ball? These are five things that I recommend including in your leadership training to encourage strong and positive leadership in your organisation.

1. Develop a leadership mindset

To start with, you need to develop a leadership mindset. Leadership trainer Kathy Caprino says that to evolve as leaders, we each need to internalise the idea that leadership is fundamentally different from managing tasks. While an effective manager still needs to manage tasks and duties well, being a great leader requires an understanding of how to behave and “show up”.

“A truly great leader… is capable of articulating a powerful, positive and compelling vision for organisational and individual growth, and can generate the trust and support needed to execute on this vision.”

Make sure your leadership training program focuses on helping managers to achieve that shift in mindset, allowing them to bring those elements to their role.

2. Train leaders in the context of your organisation

To be effective, leadership training needs to focus on real business outcomes, within the context of your organisation.

Leadership training shouldn’t look the same in every organisation. For example, the way in which managers make decisions at a startup in a high-growth industry may be quite different from decision-making in more regulated or risk averse environments, such as government.

Look at your own leadership training program. Is it relevant to the culture and context of your own business needs and outcomes?

3. Foster a culture of learning

It’s also essential for today’s leaders to promote a culture of learning, with senior leaders proactively involved in encouraging learning and development.

Anyone who is in a management role is in an exciting position to lead the way by supporting the professional development of their teams. Good leaders know that professional development is integral to the success of any company, creating a more positive work culture and better business results overall.

One of the best ways to promote a positive learning culture is by incorporating mentoring into your leadership training program. Mentoring presents many benefits for organisations, including increased knowledge sharing, improved skill sets and the opportunity for constructive feedback and support.

4. Know how and when to delegate

Anticipating change and being ready to act is crucial when it comes to being a successful leader. And knowing how to delegate is a large component of this.

Leaders need to act as change agents, driving transformation within their organisation. Strong leaders know that they can’t realistically be involved in every single day-to-day task while still maintaining focus on building and leading the business.

Delegation is an essential skill that must be included in any leadership training program. It requires trusting employees, knowledge sharing, and effective communication, which all also help to reinforce a culture of learning across organisations.

5. Improve emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is also critical to leadership success. Often overlooked when compared with more technical skills, your level of emotional intelligence (or EQ) has a huge impact on your leadership abilities.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to monitor your own and others’ feelings and emotions, and to use this information to guide your thinking and actions. It helps you to be more comfortable and competent in handling conflict, performing well under pressure, making difficult decisions, and communicating well with others – all very important skills when it comes to leading and managing teams.

It’s well worth making sure that emotional intelligence is included in today’s leadership training programs. Unlike intellect, emotional intelligence can be developed and expanded (read our article on how). That means managers can learn to improve their EQ levels and successfully apply it to their leadership role.

The way we train leaders has changed over the past decade. Even experienced managers can benefit from learning new approaches, and above all, making learning a continuous part of their working lives.

This article was written by Andrew Barnes, CEO and co-founder,

This article was originally published by HRM.