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What is Leadership Development?

Leadership is like any skill or talent; some are born with a natural ability for it while others have to work hard and train to develop the skill.

Natural Leaders have tendencies to lead in a way that people want to follow. This is done by making people feel like they play an important role in working towards a common goal the team has.

However, too often Leadership is a skill that’s seen as something which doesn’t require development or upkeep. This results in many Leaders who are ineffective in their ability to positively influence their team.

How do I know if I need Leadership Development?

There are two critical areas in Leadership which should be looked at when assessing if Leadership Development is needed. Analysing these areas requires both personal reflection from the Leader and external feedback from their team.

The first area is Self-Awareness. This means being aware of one’s own behaviours and how they impact others.

The second area is Emotional Intelligence which is intrinsically linked to Self-Awareness. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and be considerate of other people’s opinions and perspectives.

As mentioned previously, Leadership comes naturally to some people; it’s these two foundational areas of Leadership which natural Leaders possess.

Natural Leaders are hyper aware of how they impact others, they can see behavioural cues, are active listeners and thrive when generating ideas with others.

For someone who’s not a natural Leader it’s these areas and traits which may not be part of their normal interactions with others. They might struggle to read behavioural cues or miss them altogether and may impose their own ideas without team consultation first.

How do I recognise if I’m not a natural Leader?

Recognising our own areas of weaknesses can at times be difficult; especially if we’re unaware of our own behaviours.

This is where effective Leadership Assessments are utilised. These assessments will help Leaders see the characteristics they do and don’t possess.

Leadership Assessments come in many forms including self-assessments, personality assessments, psychological assessments or 360-degree surveys (which get feedback from others in their team).

Is there another way to understand more about my Leadership style without an assessment?

Taking a Leadership Assessment is the most effective way for a Leader to see their personal strengths and weaknesses. However, there is a set of questions which a Leader can ask themselves, and their team, which may assist them in understanding more about their Leadership and how it’s impacting others.

Questions Leaders can ask:

  • How did I involve the team in that decision?
  • What are my team’s perspectives, feelings and thoughts around our direction?
  • How do I think people receive me as a Leader when I’m giving my messages?

These are questions which can be asked of oneself but can also be reframed to ask a team:

  • What level of involvement do you want to have in this decision?
  • What are your thoughts around our direction and how we are progressing?
  • What feedback do you have for me after communicating with me?

The Answers

Now that these questions have been asked, what are the answers a Leader should be concerned about?

  • “I feel like I’m dismissed”
  • “My ideas are not heard or considered”
  • “There’s a lack of transparency”
  • “I’m uncertain about what we’re trying to do” or “I’m uncertain about what you expect from me”

The Exceptions

It’s important to note that these questions can only be truthfully answered by team members when there is a good work culture.

If the culture is operating at a low, reacting or conforming level, the Leader may not get honest answers from their team. People may just tell them what they want to hear.

When there’s a culture of trust with the Leader, regardless of if the Leader is effective or not, that is when truthful answers will be given.

What’s the next stage?

If Leaders receive answers that indicate change needs to happen, it’s now time to look at upskilling in three focus areas: Communication Feedback and Coaching.

The type of communication that needs to be worked on is clarity of message. This means conveying messages in a way that inspires and engages people.

With feedback, Leaders should start processing it in a way that allows them to consciously change the way they are communicating, or the way they’re involving their team.

Coaching is the most important of the three focus areas. Coaching is about asking very effective questions of the team while demonstrating active and reflective listening.

Taking the Development further

Leaders who think they need further Leadership Development should look at approaching their own Leaders to help them progress. They should express the challenges they’re having, the areas they’re struggling with, and then indicate that having Leadership Development will help bring better outcomes in their role and in the business.

Keeping the Development personal

Not all Leaders are in a position where they want or need to seek Development in an organisational setting. It may be a personal journey they want to go on at an individual level. If this is the case, there are a few ways one can do this; but not all ways are the best.

Most people gravitate towards tertiary courses such as front-line management. However, the challenge with these courses is that their technical and hard skill orientation may not fulfill the Leadership development someone is looking for.

This can leave those who wanted to improve their Leadership skills feeling disappointed.

If a Leader is looking at managing processes, those tertiary courses may be the route to pursue. Whereas courses around communication, influencing and engaging will be a better fit for someone wanting Leadership Development.

Learn more about Barclayss® Leadership Development processes and programs here 


Read our other blogs on Leadership Development:

Leadership Development: The Importance of Leadership in Your Organisation

 What is a Leadership Development Program?