Developing Leadership Skills in the Workplace: 5 Attributes of Effective Leaders

How do you improve leadership skills in your business? Are you working your own leadership skills development? Do you have a leadership development framework? What about steady, reliable methods to develop your employees’ leadership skills?

What’s interesting is that a lot of companies that have these leadership development frameworks or methods set up & ready to go… are missing half the picture.

There’s no denying having set frameworks for leadership in your business can be an advantage - regardless of the size or industry. But following a leadership method that isn’t a perfect match to your organisation can actually hold you back.

They say that success is 80-90% mindset - so how can you improve your employees’ leadership skills with methods that focus only on strategy?

Having leadership methods that lay out the basics like when & how to run performance reviews, or creating strategies around targets & objectives for individuals or teams to reach that align with company values, are valuable tools that enable your leadership team to work consistently & fairly across the board. But what these courses aren’t teaching them is how to BE leaders - they’re just learning what to ‘do’.

The Peter Principle refers to the system of promotion to point of incompetency - and it’s all too common in the workplace. You have a team member who's GREAT at their job, so you promote them (makes a lot of sense) … except the position they move into is one that actually isn’t a close fit to what they’re already good at.

Managing a team, inspiring, supporting, encouraging & developing others to be great at their job is a whole role in itself - and a lot of responsibility. Not everyone is cut out for it, and that’s that. Does that mean they don’t deserve to be recognised for how much value they’re bringing? Absolutely not. But giving them an entirely different set of responsibilities can often feel like more of a burden than a reward.

Whoever you’re bringing into a managerial position in your workplace - even those who are born to be leaders - need a certain set of skills & attributes in order to be effective leaders and to continue to thrive in their new position… and that can only come from paying attention to their leadership skills development.

Here are 5 attributes of effective leaders that CAN be taught through leadership skills development:

Leadership Skills Development Tip #1: Empathy - make it human

When sh*t hits the fan & everything feels like a rush, it can be easy to lose sight of the people behind the work. That’s why empathy is key when it comes to managing people in your business.

Remember not everyone is wired the same way or has the same experience you have (but they do have other experiences that bring different perspectives & ideas 💡)

The more you can 'humanise' your business, the more safe, empowered & motivated your team will be to commit to your mission - the reason you're all there in the first place

Leadership Skills Development Tip #2: Perspective - pay attention

Managers often have a double-edged sword of responsibility that’s too rarely acknowledged. When you're involved in business strategy AND looking after people delivering for you 'on the ground', you HAVE to be able to keep an eye on both lanes.

Big picture thinking & attention to detail don't always go hand in hand, but to help your team perform & keep your future vision edging closer, it's essential to make that connection

Leadership Skills Development Tip #3: Confidence - believe in yourself first

Quite often leaders & managers are faced with difficult decisions; challenges that have them questioning the right thing to do - and balancing the needs of the business, their team AND themselves is no mean feat. You can’t teach morals, but what you can teach is the confidence to stick to morals.

Self-belief is fundamental to effective leadership skills development - without it, we question our own value, push ourselves too hard without reward, and fear becoming overtaken. When our ego gets involved (trying to protect us from getting things wrong or looking bad), it becomes harder to stick to our guns & follow what we believe to be right.

That leads to things like avoiding delegating, breaking trust with our colleagues, & only following our own ideas rather than working collaboratively with others - none of which create the best outcome for anyone, really.

With confidence, we’re able to let go of ego and trust in ourselves that we are enough, we are good enough & that our decision will be the right one, and will work out perfectly (even if we take a hit on it first).

Leadership Skills Development Tip # 4: Courage - stepping out of the comfort zone

Everyone gets impostor syndrome (that feeling that we’re not really qualified to be here, that everyone else knows what they’re doing but us, that we could get found out at any moment). Courage is like the stepping stone between staying stuck in fear, and reaching our goals with confidence.

So although they’re often used interchangeably, courage & confidence don't always go together, sometimes you need to choose one to develop the other.

Courage is a choice, and something you can teach (through perspective & connection to purpose) to empower your leaders to keep taking the team & the business forward.

Effective leaders must have the courage to stick to their morals, to do what's best for the business, to try & fail - to get things wrong.

Having the courage to accept someone else's idea might be better than yours is a HUGE gesture to your employees, it creates collaboration, trust & honesty - and what better a foundation to build your business on?

Leadership Skills Development Tip # 5: Communication - learn to listen

Communication is a core competency of any successful team, but when it comes to the manager in charge - the ability to listen & interpret what’s being said takes things to a whole new level.

We’re often taught communication skills around the way we communicate outwardly, overlooking the fundamental need to hear & understand the communication coming back at us.

Managing a team isn’t all a bed of roses - working with different personalities of your staff as well as navigating client or customer relationships too means getting involved with mediation, encouragement & advice, as well as sharing instructions & feedback in a way that’s going to land.

Not everyone has the ability to take feedback as it is intended, so as a leader, having an awareness of your teams’ individual personal needs for communication is essential to keep things on track - and this comes through listening to what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, hearing between the lines & responding accordingly.

Leadership in reality didn’t come as easily to me as I’d expected (or hoped for). I had to check my ego BIG TIME. But it was something I’d always aspired to and - once I unlearned a lot of bad habits & attitudes I’d picked up over the years and focused on my own leadership skills development - is something I grew to love even more than the job I’d initially trained to do.

Supporting & developing a team of people to thrive in an environment that you’ve created, to nurture their talent & together produce incredible levels of delivery is incredibly rewarding.

Building a team based on trust, open communication & encouragement isn’t always easy (you don’t always get to be the bestie), but the most effective leaders know their place - and know how to draw the best out of their team in every situation.

Leadership skills development is an investment that puts your business a cut above the rest - levelling up your company’s culture, efficiency, performance & staff retention.

Whether you provide specific training, or simply create an open dialogue about leadership skills development with your managers, acknowledging the responsibilities of & empowering your leaders to prioritise this is one of the best, long-returning investments you can make.

Click here for more information on how REFLEX can support leadership skills development in your business.

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