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How to enhance the leadership qualities of your employees

Developing leadership skills across all the people within your organization (not just the leaders) can boost engagement and motivation.

A group of 3 colleagues are looking at a 4th colleague. We can only see the back of the 4th colleague. They appear to be having a friendly discussion.A group of 3 colleagues are looking at a 4th colleague. We can only see the back of the 4th colleague. They appear to be having a friendly discussion.

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Insights from Ellen Raim, Founder of People MatterWe focus more on solving than preventing People problems.

When hiring for any level position, leadership qualities are often at the top of a recruiter’s wish list. Some leadership qualities are innate, but many leadership skills must be learned and practiced.

Developing leadership skills across all the people within your organization (not just the leaders) can boost engagement and motivation. Plus, when people feel supported and nurtured, they’re more likely to be invested in the business's success. And, when you train all employees to be leaders, your internal recruitment opportunities grow.

What are the best ways to bring out leadership qualities in all employees?

Some employees are natural leaders; others require more help to bring out their leadership qualities and realize their potential. No matter their current leadership levels, all employees benefit from learning and practicing new leadership styles and techniques.

Here are 7 ways to help bring out leadership qualities in employees across your organization:

1. Encourage strong communication practices.

Leadership requires efficient and effective communication that is honest and transparent. Leaders must be able to talk to groups of all sizes and engage in difficult conversations when needed.

Help your employees prepare for leadership by training them on various communication styles and practices, including one-to-one conversations, public speaking and everything in between.

2. Set ambitious targets and stretch assignments.

Set ambitious targets as part of stretch assignments to help push employees outside their comfort zones and develop new skills. Stretch assignments should challenge employees to learn and grow. But make sure you support your employees with these endeavors. Point them toward learning opportunities, and listen when they need help or education to fill their skills gaps.

3. Avoid micromanagement.

Micromanagement is excessive supervision and control of an employee’s work and processes, which can hinder an employee’s career development. Micromanagement limits an employee’s freedom to make decisions and learn from mistakes. Plus, micromanagement can reduce an employee's self-confidence and leave them feeling demotivated.

Conversely, managers encouraging independent thinking and letting employees take responsibility for their decisions and results help employees learn and grow.

4. Encourage decision-making.

Making decisions is one of the most critical responsibilities for a leader. Some decisions can be made quickly, relying on instincts. Other choices require significant input and research. A good leader must show conviction while recognizing the need for agility when circumstances change.

Practicing when and how to make decisions takes time for employees. By providing opportunities for all your employees to make decisions, you can train them for this leadership skill well before they need to make the most complex decisions.

5. Provide cross-training opportunities.

Make it easy for employees to learn about the other teams across your organization so they can view your business holistically. For example, when your sales team understands the responsibilities of your product team, they better understand the unique value your product offers. This knowledge will help them communicate that value externally as part of their sales process. Cross-training also helps prepare employees for future leadership roles when they may have more people reporting to them and responsibilities within their domain.

6. Offer leadership training.

Learning on the job is essential, but dedicated leadership training is an excellent way for employees to focus on upskilling and re-skilling on their way to leadership roles. Leadership training should be intentionally diverse, with content coming from a variety of voices, to help employees prepare for anything that comes their way.

7. Create a mentoring program.

Mentorship programs help employees learn what it's like to be a leader and the skills they’ll need to develop to achieve their ambitions. Mentorship programs are also great at motivating senior leaders looking to give back and help empower those who follow.

Everyone can be a leader.

There are leadership opportunities at every level of employment. Preparing employees for leadership early, through training and real-life practice, is an excellent way to keep your team motivated and prepared for what’s ahead.

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