The importance of leadership skills in our teams

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Ralph Nader

Why do we need to develop leadership skills in our teams?

We all know that if we ourselves are effective leaders, we will be increasing the productivity of our organisation, engaging and retaining our staff and generally making better business decisions. However, effective leaders also need teams around with leadership skills too. Why?

Day-to-day, you need your teams to take ownership of their work; you don’t need them to bother you with every minor decision. Your staff need to feel empowered to a level appropriate to their responsibility so they can contribute to your organisation’s effectiveness. This requires some of the skills of leadership.

Effective leadership will also be planning for its own succession. Whether we’re ambitious to move up or know that we will, one day, just move on, a good leader will have an eye on those around them to nurture the skills and talents that may take over from you. (And being seen to encourage talent is rarely seen as a bad thing).

Having strong leadership skills around you can make you even more effective as a leader. If you are surrounded and supported by effective teams, to delegate tasks and share plaudits, collectively, you will achieve far more. (Remember, good leaders shouldn’t feel the need to take all the credit, in itself an act which can nurture leadership skills in others).

How do we develop leadership skills in our teams?

By recognising that development is a progressive process, we can support our up-and-coming talent more efficiently. There are, broadly, three stages: identifying the right candidates in the first instance, giving them appropriate training and giving them the opportunities to practice their skills.

What constitutes the right candidate? Some people may have inherent skills that would ideally suit them for roles in leadership but, in many cases, skills can be learnt. What is more important is to identify individuals with the right characteristics: enthusiasm, empathy, courage and creativity are traits that will stand a person in good stead to succeed as a leader.

What leadership skills do they need to learn? We will want to give our future leaders strong communication skills, so they convey their ideas and visions as well as receive and retain useful information and feedback from others. They will need to learn to think strategically, appreciating the ‘bigger picture’ in any situation, be that your competitive environment or business development. Future leaders will also need to be effective managers, most notably effective people managers.

How do we give them opportunities to practice? We can all understand that delegating appropriate tasks and projects is perhaps the most obvious way to help develop others, remembering to give an appropriate amount of guidance. It is also critically important to ‘close the loop’ after a task is complete and to give constructive feedback. The same SMART acronym that we might use for objective setting applies equally well to the giving of feedback; for example, there is no point in leaving feedback to the annual appraisal if a task was completed months before.

If you are interested in how to develop the leadership skills of those around you, why not get in touch with Maddison Coaching and Consulting to see how we might help you.

08 December 2021

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