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Leadership Development: Why It’s Important

Discover how to keep up with rapid evolution in the workplace by developing your leadership skills. Learn everything you need to know here!

By Brier Cook  •   February 14, 2023  •   7 min read

Strong leadership is imperative for any successful business. Without effective leadership, a company’s productivity will suffer, employee morale will be low, and it will be hard to achieve company goals. The best leaders are growth-minded and know that leadership isn’t just a rank in your company or a certain pay grade. All leaders should strive to continuously improve their hard and soft skills throughout their careers! 

Read on to learn about leadership development, see how you can write effective development goals, view examples, and learn why it’s important to have strong leadership in an organization.  

What is leadership development? 

Leadership development refers to anything that leaders do to improve their skills, abilities, and confidence. Some of the most popular ways that leaders develop their skills are through mentorship, coaching, schooling, and on-the-job training. Due to the broad nature of the term, leadership development can include everything from established professionals teaching younger teammates about company processes to sending a wannabe executive overseas to complete an MBA program. 

Why leadership development is important

Leadership development is a common practice for companies that want to turn rockstar employees into high-caliber leaders in senior positions. When you equip dedicated professionals with the tools, training, and resources needed to help them ascend in the workplace, the entire company benefits. For established employees who want to remain at their current level, leadership development can empower individuals to grow their skill set in ways that will help them thrive. 

Whether you’re a high-ranking executive or an entry-level employee, you can use leadership development to your advantage. 

Managing a team?

Take control of your team meetings by having collaborative meeting notes and encouraging accountability with action items. Try a tool like Fellow!

How to write leadership development goals

1Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Great leaders are self-aware, meaning they know how their values, habits, and behaviors at work impact others. If you want to determine some leadership development goals to focus on, you’ll first need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Begin by asking yourself questions like: Which projects and tasks seem to drain my energy? What projects do I like working on and why? What have others had to help me with on more than one occasion? Then, get input from a colleague or close friend and refine your list based on the feedback you’ve received. 

While it’s difficult to confront your shortcomings, doing so will help you establish what areas need improvement. 

2Clearly define an area for improvement

Once you’ve completed some self-reflection and have identified areas of improvement, determine which area you want to hone in on. Make sure that the goal is relevant to your work and is attainable. For example, it may not be reasonable to think you can learn the nuances of a teammate’s work to boost day-to-day efficiencies if it isn’t your area of expertise. However, it will be possible to work on your delegation or time-management skills if those areas need some improvement.  

3Create a roadmap 

The next step is creating a roadmap that will help you develop the chosen skill. Your roadmap should identify objectives and visualize strategies that you can use to achieve desired results in a specific period. If you’ve decided to focus on your time-management skills, you can break your goal into actionable tasks with timelines. 

Some examples of objectives could include: effectively delegating two outstanding large projects to subordinates in Q2, using time-blocking methods to optimize your calendar, and learning to say “no” to tasks that aren’t a priority. Strategies that could help you meet these goals within a specified time include: identifying which work should be delegated, setting aside time once per week to organize your work calendar, and setting boundaries during your next one-on-one with your manager. 

4Track your progress 

Once you’ve broken down larger goals into smaller steps, you can begin tracking your progress toward developing the skill. Tracking progress will allow you to create accountability, visibility, and a sense of accomplishment; it will also help you redirect your efforts when something isn’t working. 

Determine how you can break the goal into smaller tasks. Each day, week, month, or quarter, review how many smaller tasks you’ve accomplished and whether you’re on track to improve as much as you’d hoped by your deadline. If it’s helpful, establish a reward system to motivate yourself each time you reach a milestone. 

5Include a deadline

Nothing will motivate you more than a deadline. Give your roadmap an end to ensure you make consistent progress. While leadership development is an ongoing process, you should outline key milestones and deadlines in a schedule. For instance, you may know for sure that your time-management skills have improved once you are regularly delegating work projects that free up your calendar, are a master prioritizer, and use a wide range of time-management techniques to optimize your work. 

6Be flexible in your approach 

There are many ways to approach leadership development, so don’t be discouraged if you employ a technique that doesn’t work. Let’s say that you’re trying to learn how to master a new project management software. You may discover during the process that online modules aren’t nearly as helpful to you as having a colleague conduct a short training session. Everyone learns differently and there are plenty of ways to master different skill sets. Don’t be afraid to adjust your approach and strive to maintain a growth mindset when something changes. 

7Write them down 

Did you know that vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success? Writing your goals may provide the clarity needed to achieve them!

Use Fellow to help you and your teammates develop new leadership skills this year. Using our tool, you can stay on top of objectives and key results (OKRs) by clearly recording, defining, and tracking your progress. The best part is that you can review progress during team meetings and one-on-ones with your supervisor and direct reports to keep you accountable. 

Examples of leadership development goals

Here are four examples of leadership development goals you can work on this year and personal goal statements you can use in each instance to guide your intention. 

1Improve your active listening skills

Personal goal statement: By the end of Q1, I will improve my active listening skills by practicing during all team meetings and one-on-ones. I will ask thoughtful questions and invest in the ideas and opinions of my employees. During one-on-ones with my direct reports, I will seek feedback on my active listening skills. I will know I have improved when I consistently pay attention to each conversation without distraction, am open-minded and reflective, and am not afraid to ask clarifying questions during workplace interactions.

2Be more efficient 

Personal goal statement: By this June, I will be more efficient at work by honing my time-management skills, learning to prioritize different tasks, and eliminating all distractions during deep work periods. I will focus on the most important tasks first, break large tasks into smaller pieces, use asynchronous communication with colleagues, and avoid task-switching. 

3Improve your emotional intelligence (EQ)

Personal goal statement: This year, I will improve my EQ skills by learning how to identify my own emotions and react appropriately to the emotions of others at work. I will take time to notice my behavior during and after each workplace interaction and question my own opinions to better understand others and be more receptive to new ideas. I will also read two books on the topic to gain further insight into how I can become an emotionally intelligent leader. 

4Show regular appreciation for your team 

Personal goal statement: By Q4, I want to regularly show appreciation for my team by hosting events, giving shoutouts during team meetings, and recognizing team members in other ways. I also plan to express my gratitude by getting into the habit of giving affirmation and positive feedback during meetings and by sending recognition emails to team members who go above and beyond during busy times. 

The importance of strong leadership 

Senior leadership teams are responsible for setting a clear vision and objective for the company. Strong leaders build trust with their employees, allowing individuals and teams to innovate, develop creative solutions, and scale their operations. Strong leaders can bring out the best in their employees and motivate them to work towards a shared goal. Great leadership will also help an entire company remain united and agile in the face of adversity. In short, they can make the difference between business failures and major successes. 

Parting advice

The workplace is evolving more quickly than ever, so there’s no better time than now to work on your leadership skills. The best leaders prioritize personal and professional development, so don’t feel ashamed if there’s an area that you need to improve. Carve some time out of your busy schedule today to be a better leader tomorrow. 

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