Female employee standing at meeting room table presenting a document

How to Develop Leaders & Improve Leadership Potential at Work

How to Develop Leaders & Improve Leadership Potential

Do you have leadership potential? Do your coworkers? How do you know whether you, or the people working beside you, have the skills required to become a manager or CEO? The answer is leadership training. By earning your business degree with a specialization in leadership, you can learn what defines a leader, how to develop leadership qualities yourself, and how to promote them in others.

Key Competencies for Effective Leaders

Core competencies include those traits that help you communicate effectively, solve problems, and manage others. They're important to have, especially if you're employed in a leadership position. Much like hard skills, these skills can be taught or learned. Therefore, even if you aren't a natural-born leader, you can still learn how to manage an office or run a small, medium, or large business effectively.

According to Forbes, some competencies are more important than others when it comes to succeeding as a leader. They include:

  • Adaptability
  • Effective communication
  • Creativity
  • Emotional awareness
  • Ability to collaborate

The good news is that earning your MBA with Leadership Specialization at Champlain College Online can help you polish the skills that employers consider most essential. It may also help you recognize them in others, which is vital for roles that involve human resource responsibilities, such as hiring and promoting.

Importance of DEIB in Leadership

Today's workplace is governed by new ideas regarding DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging). Far from being an aside, these two topics are now at the forefront of many organizations' hiring practices. Accordingly, there are specific standards to which management and employees must adhere to remain compliant with regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a leadership role, it may be your responsibility to ensure administrators and employees continuously meet or exceed these standards.

Earning your Master of Business Administration is an ideal way to stay abreast of the laws regarding diversity and inclusion. These include making sure all employees are treated fairly, that no employee feels harassed at work, and that your company isn't inadvertently cultivating a hostile or unfriendly work environment.

How to Identify Leadership Potential in Your Organization

Can you spot the leaders in your organization? They may not necessarily be employed in leadership positions, but they share many of the same traits. These are the employees who are good at listening. They have compassion and empathy for others. They're fair, and morale is usually high when they're in the room. They probably have strong organizational skills, and they have ways of coaxing the best out of others without making an obvious effort to do so.

You've likely interacted with employees who model these traits everywhere you've worked. But they may not have worked in management. It takes familiarity with leadership qualities to pick this type of employee from a crowd, and if those in charge of hiring and promotion lack leadership training themselves, they may miss the obvious.

If you're the owner of a small, medium, or large business, or if you're currently in a leadership role at your company, there's much you can do to promote leaders from within. They all begin and end with providing development opportunities for those employees who want to grow with the company.

Provide Training and Opportunities to Grow

How do you develop leadership soft skills in your employees? One way is to provide dynamic learning experiences that stretch their abilities and talents. This may mean moving promising candidates throughout different departments to familiarize them with key processes. You may also want to give your best employees your most challenging assignments. This allows them the ability to polish skills in critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving.

Encourage Mentorship and Coaching Relationships

The importance of mentoring should never be overlooked when it comes to creating tomorrow's leaders. Pairing new employees with seasoned veterans can have numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved morale
  • Higher rates of employee satisfaction
  • Lower rates of employee turnover
  • More thorough training

It's important to provide benefits for your mentors, too. Many companies neglect this, instead requiring experienced employees to train new workers with no added compensation or advantage. This is not ideal, not only because it can turn a satisfied worker into a disgruntled employee, but because it may mar the work experience for the new hire, as well. Positivity in the workplace is vital. As a leader, it's your responsibility to ensure a safe, positive work environment for everyone under your supervision.

Cultivate a Culture of Feedback and Continuous Improvement

As an effective leader, you must provide feedback that's constructive and educational. This is where your communication skills and positivity will serve you well. It's difficult to tell someone they're doing something wrong or to call them out for unacceptable behavior, but it's the job of every manager to do so. Learning to do this in a constructive way is a skill you must develop. If you do it well, you'll create an environment that's conducive to learning.

Recognize and Reward Leadership Potential

When you find those individuals who routinely go above and beyond in their roles with the company, be sure to reward them, recognize their efforts, and offer your appreciation. There are many benefits of rewarding employees for a job well done:

  • Gains employees’ trust
  • Boosts productivity
  • Helps you retain top talent
  • Creates a positive work culture
  • Improves employee satisfaction

While it may not always be feasible to increase an employee's pay or salary, other incentives may work just as well. These might include giving an employee an extra day off, presenting them with a gift card to a local business, or allowing them to work a half-day on the day of their choice.

Tips For Fostering a Supportive Environment for Emerging Leaders

Overall, the leaders of a company are responsible for its success or decline. Learning how to manage people, communicate effectively, and work well with others are all key components to being an effective leader. Learning how to spot these characteristics in others will help you build a strong leadership team that advances your organization's objective in all the right ways. The companies that do this best strive for the following four outcomes:

1. Encourage Self-Awareness and Reflection

Helping your employees discover their own strengths and weaknesses encourages self-awareness. A self-aware employee has a better grasp on which areas they wish to improve. By providing constructive feedback and encouraging reflection, you can coach a good employee into becoming an outstanding member of your team.

2. Promote Potential Leaders to Take on Challenges

The best employees are filled with potential, but many companies make the mistake of leaving that potential untapped. Don't let this happen in your organization. Studies show that most employees enjoy using their talents and abilities. In fact, challenging your workers to stretch their knowledge and providing opportunities for them to showcase what they can do is an ideal way to boost morale.

3. Build Strong Relationships

Strong work relationships are mutually beneficial to both management and employees because they make work a pleasant place to be. To build rapport with your team, you must be trustworthy and reliable - and open to suggestions for change. Transparency also helps build strong connections. An open-door policy is preferable to a more traditional tiered hierarchy. In this way, any employee who has a problem can talk to you without following a set chain of command.

4. Develop a Clear Career Path for Employees

When employees have a clear vision of the steps they must take to be promoted, they're better able to achieve them. Ideally, your team will have tools to track their progress. Providing your team with HR software to track progress can fill the void. HR software automates tasks that would otherwise require valuable work hours by your HR team, and it helps employees stay abreast of the progress they're making toward attaining their individual work goals.

How an MBA Can Help You Become a Leader

When you're ready to take your career to the next level, consider earning your Master of Business Administration with Leadership Specialization at Champlain College Online. Through our online division, we offer traditional and nontraditional students access to more affordable education. Your MBA may help open doors you never dreamed would be accessible, and your focus on leadership may help you succeed in any industry you choose. Every company needs effective, compassionate leaders. Put yourself in the running by earning your degree at Champlain College Online. Contact us today to learn more.

About the Author

Champlain College Online

Request Information

Connect with our admissions team to learn more about Champlain College Online. 

Sunset over Lake Champlain from Champlain College campus in Burlington, Vermont

Request Information

I acknowledge that, by clicking the "submit" button, I am giving my express written consent to Champlain College and its representatives to contact me about educational opportunities via email, text, or phone, at the phone number above, including my mobile phone, using an automatic dialer, or pre-recorded message. Message and data rates may apply. I understand that my consent is not a requirement for enrollment, and I may withdraw my consent at any time.