Developing Leadership Within the Organization: A Strategic Investment

Leadership development is an investment that most organizations are doing to seize a competitive advantage in the market

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Organizational cultures are rapidly evolving. Unlike a few decades ago, the relationship between the organizations and their employees is now being seen more like a partnership. Organizations are increasingly viewing their human capital as a strategic resource rather than mere workforce and want to invest in employee development and retention. Leadership development is one such investment that most organizations are doing to seize a competitive advantage in the market and keep their organizations prepared for difficult times and disruptive changes. In the modern corporate landscape, which is driven by hyper competition and innovation, leadership development should be seen as a long-term investment by any organization.

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What is leadership development

Conventionally it was believed that leaders are born, not made. However modern studies and experiences have revealed that leadership is also like any other soft skill and can be taught and developed in individuals. Leadership development can be seen as developing certain competencies in individuals with an objective to prepare them for positions of significance within the organization. Leadership development not only focuses on domain knowledge but also on soft skills like influencing ability, conflict management, self-awareness, negotiation skills, public skills, critical thinking, empathy, etc.

Leadership development as a strategic investment

A strategic investment is an investment that is necessarily not for immediate monetary gains but with a larger objective in mind. There are several advantages for organizations investing in a leadership development program. The first and foremost advantage is the preparation for the future. The recent pandemic showed us how unpredictable the future can be. Leadership development programs ensure that organizations have competent people ready to take positions of leadership in case of loss of important people due to any reason and steer the organizations through turbulent times.

Leadership development programs are also important in retaining and attracting talent. Professionals nowadays wish to work for organizations that not just view them as employees but as partners for growth. They are more inclined to work for organizations that are willing to invest in their employees. Such programs are viewed as an additional benefit to the employees. Managers with strong leadership skills are able to extract better performances from their teams and retain the employees. Human capital is perhaps the only resource that increases in value with time. This makes employee retention extremely important for organizations.

Good leaders lead by example and set benchmarks for others with their performance. This motivates people to perform better. They also ensure better coordination within and between teams. They minimize friction between the employees and resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently and make sure that the resources are utilized for productive work.

Leadership programs create people who then see further and think wider. Therefore, it prepares an organization for the future.

How to develop leadership!

While there is no set formula for a leadership development program, there are few things that any organization could include in their LDP.

Identifying the people to develop: Leaders need to have domain knowledge as well as ethics and soft skills. Absence of any of these skills can hamper the leadership abilities of an individual. Therefore, individuals with both these competencies should be the first in the line for leadership development.

Polishing the competencies: Based on different personality traits different individuals might require focused training on different skills.

Interaction with influential leaders: Interacting with established leaders can do a world of good for emerging leaders. Understanding their leadership styles and learning from their mistakes can be a significant milestone in leadership development.

Providing leadership roles in a controlled environment: During the leadership development program, the developing leaders should be given chances to lead teams under the supervision of experienced leaders. This way they will gain practical experience and self-confidence and gradually develop into able leaders.

Leadership development is a complicated process without any assured template. No single formula is applicable to two organizations. Every organization has to derive its own formula for success. It involves investment, resources and patience. It is a slow process and does not guarantee hundred percent success. However, if done properly not only can it provide sustained competitive advantage to an organization but also maximize financial returns, help the organization expand and successfully navigate through tough times.