In a recent survey, GrowthSpace identified leadership skills as the top soft skill which employees will need in 2022. In view of the importance of leadership skills, L&D departments should implement programs to develop this area as a means of ensuring competitiveness and cultivating productivity.
What Are Leadership Skills?
Many skills are associated with leadership, and they change over time. There has been growing recognition of soft skills as being at least as vital to proper leadership as hard skills were once regarded. Within the category of “soft skills”, there are many elements that are crucial for the success of a leader.
This study explains why the most commonly sought leadership skills are:
Leaders who are self-aware understand how their personality traits and habits affect interactions with employees at all levels of the organization. Leaders who are self-aware notice how their actions and directions are perceived and constantly aim to improve. In addition, a manager with high self-awareness knows that their skill set is not complete and they rely on others to fill in the gaps.
Communication for leaders involves a wide range of activities, from creating employee schedules to giving an inspiring speech. It is one of the most difficult skills to acquire because it has many dimensions that include spoken, written, and non-verbal communication. It can be said that there are no perfect communicators for this reason, so every leader can benefit from communication skill training of some sort.
A leader who is responsible for change management must be able to develop a systematic approach for a transition or adaptation of an organization’s processes, technologies, and/or goals. Soft skills are essential here, as explaining the ramifications of change to employees–and obtaining their support–is a central objective of organizational change.
Strategic thinking in a business environment is the interpretation of current activities, competition, market forces, organizational changes, and product trends as a way of setting future objectives. A leader with strategic thinking skills will stay aware of the ‘big picture’ in their day to day activities. For example, a manager who sees the onset of a global pandemic will understand that there will be supply chain disruptions and make arrangements accordingly.
It is important to note that “leader” does not necessarily mean “manager” or “executive”. A leader can also be an employee who takes initiative, is an expert in their field, acts as a role model, and various other characteristics that promote increased productivity.
Why Are Leadership Skills Important?
No company can succeed without leadership, and building the skills of those in positions of responsibility can have various benefits:
A potential barrier to effective leadership is a lack of relevant skills. Conversely, a leader who is supported by extensive skills will feel more competent and therefore more enthusiastic. A trained leader also understands that the organization is investing both in the success of operations and of the leader.
When current leaders move on to other positions, or leave the organization, it is crucial for their replacement to have the right skills. However, it is often the case that a new manager will lack both knowledge of their specific role and basic leadership skills. Leadership skill development will minimize disruption as the new manager becomes acclimatized.
Although a basic task of any manager is to enable both the creation and reinforcement of strategy, leadership skills have these activities as a focus. Strategic thinking and change management skills are particularly valuable for the implementation of far-reaching plans.
Of course, the effectiveness of a leadership skills program depends on the organization. However, surveys show that leadership development programs generally have both a considerable ROI and result in a greater number of more effective leaders. For instance, this study cites that, after a decade, organizations with leadership development programs increase their number of effective leaders by 27%.
Let GrowthSpace Lead Your L&D Efforts
One of the challenges of building leadership skills is the deployment of L&D programs on a large scale. Organizations that want to develop the potential of employees at various levels need a way to match individual training requirements with experts in those specific areas. GrowthSpace is the first L&D platform of its kind that enables highly scalable leadership skill development programs through a technology that connects leaders with trainers, coaches, and mentors of any specialty.