Updated: Sep 22
With how fast the world is moving today people are our most important resource. I explore in depth how leadership training impacts your business and your people.
Why is leadership training important? Leadership training is important because it drives revenue and growth. People are a company’s primary resource and leadership training directly impacts their productivity and engagement.
Leadership training is often an underdeveloped aspect of a company’s overall training program. Often leadership training is reserved for higher-level positions when in fact leadership training can be applied at all levels and can have a drastic positive effect on your business.
When employees are given training and are encouraged to lead it makes them feel valued. I know when I feel valued I work harder, I take initiative and my overall feeling about the company and my coworkers improves. As employees feel more valued they continue to improve and get better, thinking more about the company and taking on tasks they would have otherwise ignored. This creates a snowball-like effect of employees bettering themselves and as a result bettering your business.
When you have happy, trained employees your business ends up being more stable. According to a LinkedIn study of 4000 employees training for soft skills – leadership, communication, collaboration, and role-specific skills – was the #1 priority. Link to the entire article here.
What this means is that employers need to recognize that the development of people is now something that must be done. It is no longer an option. Gone are the days where people worked their entire lives at one job. People now change jobs at a far greater frequency because the power has shifted to the employee. According to bls.gov the average tenure at a job is now only 4.2 years.
Employees crave training because ultimately they know it will push their careers in and upward trajectory. It is human nature to keep moving in the right direction and when we are moving in the right direction we feel happy and content. On the flip side when we don’t feel that upward momentum dissatisfaction sets in. We feel less content and in the context of the workplace when discontent sets in the job search begins; or at the very least, and in addition, engagement dwindles.
Employee engagement is highly correlated with productivity. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2016 companies with high engagement scores are 21% more productive. Today’s workplace is more transparent than it ever has been and expectations have evolved as technology and society changes. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and they have very different needs from their predecessors. Employees now expect that the employer is focused on them as a person and not just as a number.
In life, and in business, there is always going to be risk. Risk management is an important part of leadership training and if you have employees that are comfortable with risk, and trained in risk, you have employees who can push the envelope. When you combine that with a forward-facing culture that encourages the right kind of risk you have a recipe for success. The old saying goes “no risk no reward” and that holds true here. When you take the right risk the rewards can be invaluable.
The culture of yesterday was a time-based culture. Show up for work, put in your time, get paid. Today’s emerging leaders are focused on people and results rather than time. Having leaders vs employees in an organization means that there is more personal accountability. Personal accountability is much easier to manage and produces vastly better results than managers ruling time and micromanaging employees.
When an Employee is Not Trained as a Leader
I have a problem with how a large number of companies promote from within. Take the example of an electrician who has been in the industry for over 20 years. She works hard, she comes on time, she is responsible and if you give her direction she follows it well, with minimal supervision. Basically a model, loyal employee and let’s reward her. Now take her and put her into a position of leadership. Very few of the skills she has used on a daily basis now apply to her new job.
Instead of showing up and reading schematics, or taking direction from a foreman she is now in the position of leading a group of electricians who each have their own methods and personalities. Without leadership training, this person has a high chance of failure because she simply does not have the skills needed to perform in her new job.
This is a common mistake by employers. I’m not sure if it’s because they think they are rewarding the employee for loyal service or if it’s simply a knowledge gap but regardless it has far-reaching consequences for the employee and the business.
This person is now in a position to fail and if that happens the company has not only lost a manager they’ve lost an electrician and valuable employee.
It’s okay to promote a person from within that does not yet have the skills necessary to perform their job, with one caveat: That person must have a clear path towards gaining the skill set needed to succeed. The person also needs to have a willingness to learn. What people fail to realize is that leading and managing are completely separate skill sets. Being a good electrician or plumber or whatever has no bearing on how well you can lead people and drive results.
The future is now. The world we live in is changing faster than at any point in history. How we look at motivation, happiness, success, engagement and many other facets of humanity has changed drastically; and for the better.
Emotional intelligence surfaced around 1995. At the time there was a perplexing statistic regarding how IQ correlated with success. Basically the statistic was that 70% of people with average IQs outperformed those with higher IQs. This flew in the face of the predominant sentiment at the time that IQ was responsible for success. There is a more in-depth article on the entire subject here.
The most amazing facet of emotional intelligence is that it is a learned skill. Unlike IQ which is generally considered to be fixed, each person has a baseline level of emotional intelligence that can be improved and cultivated. Emotional intelligence is correlated with better performance and engagement, happiness, ability to deal with stress, communication skills and a host of other highly beneficial characteristics and skills.
Think about a great manager that you’ve had at some point in your career. That person likely had a high level of emotional intelligence. In fact, emotional intelligence is now generally considered more important than professional skills, with a certain level of implied competency as a baseline.
Emotional intelligence is directly correlated to making better decisions. Can you imagine the effect of training all of your employees to improve their emotional intelligence? How much could your business benefit if each one of your employees started making better decisions. How would it positively affect each of their lives, even outside of the company?
Take your employees and turn them into leaders. Develop them, show them their path to growth and improvement. Turn them into leaders with passion and let them take risks. Focus on them and the results will come!