Influential leaders must display a wide range of skills, empower people, align everyone on the company vision and values, and support effective collaboration.
Effective leadership demonstrates exceptional skills with emotion management whilst making impactful decisions. A leader who is capable of understanding the emotions of others with compassion and empathy consistently exceeds in the leadership role.
Managers are expected to be effective leaders who positively influence others from the point of the appointed managerial authority of their position. With this burden of responsibility, it’s only rational that they undergo continual leadership development training. However, the training needs may vary as per each individual and organisation, as we shall later see.
What is leadership training?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define a leader. A leader is any individual in an organisation who is given formal authority over others but relies on informal authority to exercise positive influence over subordinates.
Leadership training constitutes a series of short-term modules dedicated to building an organisation’s existing management skills. It can be performed through multiple mediums like audio, video meetings, and online classes.
Importance of leadership training for managers
The following are some quick reasons why it is vital for managerial roles to undertake leadership training:
Builds teamwork and morale
Leadership training presents leadership principles to help employees to better understand a manager’s decisions. This consequently leads to better teamwork and decision-making. And thus, a more united workforce that makes more discerning business decisions.
Better project management
These trainings equip managers with the skills to easily manage many complicated aspects of a project. Well-trained managers can keep a project on schedule and continue to make profits for a business. Consequently, wider team morale can also improve because of success in meeting project deadlines.
Enhances influential skills
Managers can learn better influencing and negotiation skills to motivate, teach and convince their teams and clients. Leadership training can teach managers to better select a team and evaluate whether certain team members improve or decrease a team’s overall efficiency.
Managers that are trained to become more effective leaders increase the overall productivity of an organisation’s workforce. In practice, trained managers provide better instruction to staff, offer creative solutions, and intelligently manage challenges.
The leadership competencies they pick up can also help them foresee goal expectations, make goal plans and organise their teams to reach the goals.
Improves communication skills
Leadership training avails opportunities to practice public speaking via group activities, projects, and conference activities. As a result, managers can improve their communication skills when engaging employees. This helps to better explain their ideas and translate information to various people, regardless of background or age.
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Enhances company culture
Leadership programs help communicate to managers that the company cares about them and desires them to succeed. This strengthens their morale and makes the business a more attractive workplace whilst reinforcing company culture and values.
Helps with change management
It equips managers to better handle changes in the market. It provides them with the skills to react to any unexpected market changes and handle new competition, external impact, and more.
Reduces staff turnover
Leadership training can improve organisation loyalty. And therefore, it helps to reduce the cost of hiring campaigns, advertising, and recruitment agency fees.
This is because employees tend to leave companies because of poor management. However, well-trained managers can help in employee retention which can directly affect a company’s turnover rate.
Improves risk management
Managers that undergo leadership training learn how to handle risk. It helps to make their decisions more valuable to a business. Further, it also improves managers’ strategic abilities, making them a more valuable asset for the business’s future.
Leadership training topics for managers
1. Different leadership styles
This topic teaches managers how to enforce different leadership styles to accommodate disparate types of subordinates. This is because some employees can be challenging to manage and continually test a manager’s patience.
It helps instil skillful management with patience to teach managers how to manage challenging employees whilst controlling their own feelings effectively.
2. Planning and organising
These are two vital functions performed by any manager. As such, this component aims to sharpen a manager’s skills to help them become more efficient and avoid wasting valuable time. This, in turn, helps them to better achieve their goals and be more successful.
3. Task delegation
Managers who do not possess delegation skills often struggle with meeting their department’s productivity goals and delivering high-quality work. To exacerbate issues, they also discourage and frustrate their employees in the process of poor delegation.
This aspect of leadership training helps managers become more effective in identifying the right people to handle specific tasks. All whilst ensuring they have the right knowledge and tools to get the job done.
Overall, good delegation keeps people motivated and allows them to be more creative in their work. Thus, increasing job satisfaction and employee retention.
4. Team Motivation
A motivated workforce is vital to the success of any enterprise. Leadership training provides managers with the tools to encourage employees through tested techniques designed to help them.
5. Decision making
Leadership training covers different verticals of decision-making skills for managers, such as:
- Analytic decision-making: This discipline is all about carefully examining the available facts and data before making a crucial decision.
- Conceptual decision-making: This covers more creative thinking and collaboration for managers to base their decisions on multiple different perspectives.
- Behavioural decision-making: This ensures that managers work together and make group-orientated choices before deciding on the best course of action.
- Directive decision-making: Directive decision-making is lightning fast, rational, and direct.
6. Conflict management
This leadership training module focuses on resolving workplace conflicts effectively.
Fundamentally, it aims to equip managers with the skills to turn potentially destructive situations into positive opportunities for growth and development within a workforce.
It enhances employee motivation and cooperation whilst creating an atmosphere where compromise and agreement prevail over conflict. Generally, this training encompasses:
- Understanding why conflict arises
- Handling confrontation
- Collaborating to problem-solve
- Managing stress and emotions
- The formal complaints process
- Understanding why conflict arises
- Handling complicated or narcissistic personalities at work
7. Performance management
Performance management focuses on creating an environment that allows people to perform their best in alignment with the company’s objectives.
It is a continuous cycle of setting goals, planning those goals, and reviewing their progress.
Leadership training typically covers performance management in its entirety, with a focus on enhancing how managers:
- Use performance management tools.
- Conduct appraisals
- Giving employee feedback
- Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Implement personal development plans
8. Negotiation skills
Managers who are good negotiators build, maintain, and improve workplace relationships.
For example, good negotiators find amicable solutions to challenging problems rather than spending hours arguing with subordinates and trying to force them to do what they want. And thus, keep work moving smoothly, with minimal effort.
A good leadership training course typically has modules that help sharpen managers’ skills while negotiating issues with employees, from performance goals to vacation schedules.
9. Digital leadership
Digital leadership focuses on social, emotional, and cognitive capabilities to enable individuals to adapt to the demands of digital life.
This module equips managers with such digital leadership competencies to adjust to the ever-evolving multi-channel world.
10. Effective communication
It is crucial for managers to learn how to better communicate across organisational ladders. This is because good communication between employees and managers helps all aspects of an employee’s work experience.
This vertical structure equips managers with skills that may help them better understand employees’ queries, explanations, and motives.
11. Employee engagement
Maintaining successful partnerships within an organisation to fulfil work duties starts with effective employee engagement. It is a vital metric of corporate culture as it indicates how involved and committed employees are to their workplace.
Engaged employees result in higher profits, more sales, lower turnover, and impact on a multitude of critical key performance indicators.
Leadership training helps foster good employee engagement as managers significantly impact this factor. Comprehensive modules, therefore, cover how to effectively diagnose and engage employees to make them committed to their work, and less likely to leave.
11. Driving innovation
Today’s corporate marketplace is shifting rapidly as more consumers demand technology-driven solutions. As such, modern-day managers need to be flexible and think strategically to lead their teams to success.
A module on driving innovation should equip managers with the ability to intuitively assess situations and develop strategic plans to reach them. This should be done whilst evaluating other globally successful companies in the technology realm to discover how they have evolved and grown.
12. Diversity and inclusion
Workplaces typically host people from all works of life, ethnicities, and cultures. Managers need skills to handle this diversity in a manner that makes all team members feel included.
A comprehensive leadership training program should cover diversity and inclusion in the workplace for managers.
13. Workplace ethics
Ethical conduct is a key basis for long-term success as it promotes a strong public image for an organisation. People love doing business with organisations they can trust, as such, entities are rarely prone to questionable activities or selfish gain.
These sessions typically cover business ethics for managers to explore ethical issues that affect employees. It helps to ensure that an organisation acts ethically in all matters related to business.
14. Emotional intelligence skills
Good managers often have great emotional intelligence. This goes beyond simply understanding emotions to understanding what employees need to succeed.
Leadership training can help managers understand how emotions impact employees and how to lead with careful thoughtfulness and consideration. This can be a valuable asset during performance evaluations for team members and whilst creating plans to improve individual efficiency.
Steps to planning a leadership training program for managers
- Obtain buy-in from the main stakeholders
For a program to be effective, there must be buy-in from senior management. This is because these programs dictate significant investment in the annual budget to be successful. And this budget typically needs to be approved by senior management before launching the training.
- Determine key leadership competencies
Identify the key leadership competencies required for a business’s current and future success. These competencies will become the foundation of the leadership training program and ensure that the next generation of managers is ready for current challenges.
- Have a vision
The vision is important as it sets the tone of voice for the training modules and strategies you will run. Having a clear and specific timeline for achieving training results ensures that a vision becomes a reality.
- Have action steps that can be measured daily, weekly or monthly.
Design specific action steps that are measurable periodically and realistic. Ideally, they must be measured by key performance indicators that can be monitored weekly or even monthly.
- Have a regular assessment & evaluation of the leadership training program
Regularly reassess your program and its modules to keep it relevant. Remember, you cannot always expect to have the perfect plan.
This strategy can actually produce a continuous feedback mechanism for a company to be able to adjust its program easily to address any deficiencies and problems encountered.
This, in turn, provides an opportunity to iteratively tweak a plan’s objectives to mirror the organisation’s changes in real-time.
Online leadership development training for managers
As the theme of this article has echoed, managers need leadership training to better prepare them for diverse employee characters.
However, as with everything, trainings too have moved towards the online world. Virtual leadership trainings for managers can offer a completely immersive environment to different managers in disparate industries.
The fundamental premise of such online/virtual training programs is to upskill managers in the areas of communication, presentation, confidence, interpersonal skills, innovative leadership skills, flexibility, and emotional intelligence.
How is virtual reality helping in leadership training for managers?
Virtual reality technology is reshaping how leadership training is delivered currently. This is especially true in the area of communication training.
Growth Academy’s virtual leadership development programs provide managers with a safe and comfortable learning space to learn without the constraints of physical interaction.
All things considered, effective management focuses on the reliable execution of a company’s initiatives by ensuring the appropriate implementation of plans, procedures, policies, systems, and processes.
This means that managers are expected to guide the employees when the initiative goes off course, utilising personal experience, wise judgment, and expertise. It also means that managers are required to have situational awareness and deal with concrete information whilst applying linear thinking. On the other hand, managers dealing with unstructured situations require lateral thinking.
All these aspects can be tackled by a comprehensive leadership training program that helps managers to deal with the present corporate landscape whilst thinking about the future.
Often employees fear what needs to be done. However, a good manager inspires them to overcome the fear of the consequences of the potential failure that accompanies any company initiative.
Co-founder and Managing Director
Stuart Harris, co-founder of Growth Academy Asia, has a vast background in corporate events and learning & development. As co-founder and managing director at Team Building Asia, Stuart has developed a large network of international clients over the past 20 years and brought an innovative perspective to the more traditional elements of team building, which lead to the founding Growth Academy Asia. With GAA, he aspires to disrupt the L&D industry with the immersive VR organisational and leadership programmes.