“Too often, companies hold leadership training just for their leaders. This may seem like an obvious thing to do. But in fact, limiting such opportunities only to current leaders or even high potentials is a mistake. By making leadership training available for all employees, it’s possible to cultivate critical skills within a broader base of the workforce. Some high-potential individuals may not see themselves as managers or executives. For these people, thoughtful leadership training can unlock new possibilities simply by demystifying the language of leadership and helping them see themselves through a new lens.”
There is no “one size fits all” program, so let’s explore the different types of leadership training opportunities available for employers to offer to all employees. Keep in mind that when creating or revising your current leadership development opportunities, you should look at your budget, timeline, and the number of employees affected.
1. Conferences and Seminars
Large off-site conferences, seminars, Ted Talks, and networking events are great opportunities for employees to meet new colleagues, develop social skills, and submerge themselves into new topics of interest. A day trip to a neighboring city for a large conference featuring a well-known speaker may be just the engagement and team building activity that your staff needs to jump-start their growth and encourage their collaboration.
Typically hosted by a certified professional, leadership development workshops often have targeted topics that employers can choose from to help attendees through a weak spot. Popular topics like Energy Leadership, Managing Different Generations, and Navigating a Complex Candidate Market can be customized to meet your unique organizational needs. These are smaller groups that allow for cross-functional relationship building and critical thinking assessment.
Continuing education is becoming a more popular option, especially when supported by an employer. Whenever a course or micro-course is offered through E-learning on a platform like SumTotal or SkillSoft, they can be an easy way to promote leadership training to your employees at their leisure. A bonus with this option is that you can offer tuition reimbursement for costs associated with degrees and/or certificates. One other bonus here is allowing time each month for employees to utilize E-learning on a platform already installed on your servers.
4. 1:1 Coaching or Mentoring
If an employee is open and willing, connecting them to a coach or mentor in their field is a great tool for long term leadership development. This mentor can be someone within the organization – side note, ensure the mentor is reputable through a thorough 360 feedback performance review and that they agree to mentoring the employee. Coaching services are also widely available through third-party consulting firms.
5. Community Action
What better way to see our employees step out of their shell and into new skills than introducing them into an opportunity that benefits the community? As well as improving philanthropic efforts, you can also open the highway for communication to your staff with a call to action for those interested in leading vendor relationships, fundraising, employee events (i.e. a Heart Walk), etc.
Tasking your employees with responsibility outside of their normal day-to-day realm will reveal other areas of strength and call on teamwork.
Tapping into the potential of all your employees is like completing an obstacle course with a team and allowing each person to complete the section best fit for their skills. Leadership training is designed to provoke critical thinking through personal exercises, promote accountability, and encourage teamwork. It is also a great tool for employers to weed through those who reject coaching and mentorship.
Making employee development a central part of your organization will benefit your business in more ways than one. Investing in your employees helps foster an engaged workforce, which is proven to be more productive, profitable, and attractive compared to companies with disengaged employees.