In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the way managers and senior leaders have been investing in their employees within the workplace. The culture of developing leaders and your own leadership abilities has become a notable driving force behind creating unified and motivated teams. But how does investing in the development of your leaders and yourself result in higher performance and a stronger team?
For any business, meaningful development sends clear signals to individuals, teams, the organisation as a whole, and its stakeholders that it values its people, their skillsets, their service and their future. In a world of constant unknowns, this can mean that staff can focus their energy on their customers (which has merits on an individual and team level). It also returns in future years as it’s positively related to tenure to stay which pays off with staff, stakeholder and customer relationships - not to mention knowledge and information. Having staff attend development sessions also sends a signal to potential employees that you have a genuine interest that could translate into a competitive difference in tight markets.
With the modern world developing and changing at lightning speed, if you’re not evolving and learning, you won’t be around for long or will be completely surprised with what could be lurking around the corner. Professional development is essential for every business to take up. Think of Kodak, the company that invented the very piece of technology that destroyed their business because they stood still and stopped questioning, learning and growing.
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Development in the workplace takes on many forms - it can be formal and related to your domain, field, role or specialty and it can also simply be practicing, learning and applying what you learn from other contexts to your own. Think of it like having the right fitness to take the field if the coach calls on you.
As a leader, employees developing themselves is a key opportunity for you to continue to develop and learn. By making time post the learning/course to sit down and have a coffee with the employee, asking them what they have learnt, you will be able to establish what needs to be dialed up or down within the organisation. If you’re feeling brave, the same question can be asked in relation to your own leadership style/approach.
In many cases, to ensure success within your business and team, you need to look at yourself as a leader – are you showing a genuine interest in your staff? It’s a given that a having a good basis for leadership within your business will have a direct impact on its success, but to first establish this basis is another thing altogether.
A modern style of leadership is now being sought after by both employers and employees alike. This style of leadership is designed on the simple principle of being ‘collaborative’. Leaders need to be versatile, adaptable, have a strong presence and purpose, while working well in complex, fast changing-situations – it’s not an easy task to master. But to be able to instil this leadership not only within yourself but with leaders within your team and the business community, you’re creating a set of frameworks, developing confidence, and motivating your team to succeed in all areas.
A common worry for the business owner is that if they develop their team too much, they’ll leave. Yes, this is a risk, but it is often not the case. The risks associated with developing the leadership members within your business far outweigh those if you don’t. There are all sorts of repercussions your business could face if your employees are left out in the cold (so to speak). Underperformance, demoralisation, boredom, lack of productivity are just some of these; and it comes down to one main factor that can quickly cause them to look elsewhere: neglect.
Developing your people isn’t all about furthering their skills, it’s about bringing them on the journey around where you’re planning on taking your business and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Leadership is absolutely essential within this scheme. While it’s critical for management positions or positions you look to as an advocate for particular areas of the business, leadership is not solely reserved for people managers. Leadership can come from multiple areas. It drives the cultural ethos within the business – so the feel and personality of your business is critical to what you’re delivering to customers and your staff.
Allowing time for your own development allows you to hone your leadership strategy for your business, but most importantly, your team. Return to your business with a refreshed perspective and support from a new network of business owners and experts, and you’ll see results sooner than you expected.