The Importance of Leadership Development: 10 Reasons

There’s absolutely zero harm in it.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

The Importance of Leadership Development

The world is ever changing; unless businesses adapt to this shifting landscape, they risk throwing away their place on the market and becoming irrelevant fast. That’s why it’s important for leaders to not only possess the necessary skills to keep their companies thriving in the present, but also to be able to anticipate and adapt to future trends and events.

The best way to ensure that leaders — both current and prospective ones — are thoroughly equipped to hold the reins is to invest in leadership development. In this article, we’ll look at what leadership development entails and all the reasons why companies should invest in training their managers and executives sooner rather than later.

What is leadership development?

Leadership development is the process of training company employees so that they develop new leadership skills, enhance existing ones, and learn how to best apply them in various scenarios. Some examples of leadership skills include adaptability, innovation, conflict management, critical thinking and negotiation.

All of these abilities can enhance employee performance in any role, regardless of seniority. But although all employees could benefit from being included in a leadership development program, it’s not just helpful but essential that aspiring leaders in particular are given this type of support.

Leadership development programs can be created in-house so that they’re tailored to individual employees’ skill and knowledge gaps, or they can be found in the form of leadership and management courses.

Why is leadership development important?

Companies can benefit from leadership training in several ways. Let’s look at 10 important advantages of creating leadership training programs for current and future leaders.

1. Competent leaders inspire trust and loyalty

Great leaders are able to demonstrate vital soft skills, such as active listening and empathy, which can do wonders for team morale. The more comfortable employees feel in voicing their concerns, and the more they’re kept in the loop about what’s happening on a company-wide level, the likelier they are to want to invest more energy into driving results.

In the words of Edward Matti, managing director of CCM Consultancy Firm, “Your people are the ones carrying out the strategy, and if they are unhappy or marginalized, you are sure to fail.”

2. Strategic planning and execution become more effective

A leader who has a holistic approach to business, aiming to strike a balance between doing what’s good for both the organization and its people, becomes more effective at weighing each pro and con prior to making important decisions.

Consequently, effective leaders are also clear about their intent and vision. This makes it possible to strategize sustainable ways of moving forward and give clear instructions and support to their teams. The clearer the desired outcome, the more targeted and streamlined everyone’s efforts can be, from the most junior to the most senior employee.

3. It’s easier to attract and retain talent

Great leadership is accompanied by a standout company culture. This is something that existing employees get to experience and appreciate every day, but it’s also something that quickly becomes evident to prospective employees during the hiring process.

According to Gallup, employees who feel connected to their organization’s culture are 3.7 times more likely to be engaged at work and 68% less likely to feel burned out at the end of the workday. They’re also 55% less likely to be looking out for other job opportunities.

4. It makes it easier to navigate change

Effective leadership training programs, such as those offered by Swiss Connect Academy, place a lot of emphasis on shifting people’s perspectives around change. Though we all know that change is inevitable, a lot of the time our impulse is to resist it. The longer we spend doing that, however, the more time and energy we expend on staying in one spot instead of trying to find ways of adapting and moving forward.

The workplace has changed a lot in recent decades: from workplace layouts and the use of technology to workforce diversity and flexible working models, the way we go about doing business keeps on shifting. Embracing these changes is the only way to stay afloat.

5. It gives employees a sense of purpose

Good leaders have a clear understanding of what they envision for their company. When the mission is clear, roles and expectations within the team can be defined more accurately, with employees gaining a more concrete vision of what they’re working towards. This can be extremely rewarding.

When, on the other hand, employees are unclear about what’s expected of them or why the projects they’re working on matter, it can lead to disengaged workers who mentally resign long before handing in their notice.

6. Your work environment becomes healthier

When a manager or boss develops an effective leadership style, it can encourage employees to become more vocal, honest and productive. That’s because transparent, supportive leaders can influence and inspire their employees to act similarly.

When this sense of camaraderie radiates from the top down, it can strengthen relationships and lead to team members feeling happier and more appreciated. This is vital in hitting targets: as Forbes reports, “happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees.”

7. It can save you money

When employees are shown appreciation, have the space to express themselves, and understand what’s expected of them, it enhances your team’s overall productivity, reducing misunderstandings, conflicts and needless back and forth.

This has a direct impact on company finances: according to SHRM, miscommunication can end up costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

8. It helps you navigate crises better

Those in leadership roles must be trained to handle unexpected changes and challenges effectively. This goes beyond honing leaders’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills — to a large extent, it also entails strengthening their emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence comprises skills like accountability and emotional regulation. As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, chief innovation officer at ManpowerGroup, writes for the Harvard Business Review: “Managers and leaders have a direct effect on their employees’ stress and anxiety levels. What they say, feel and do hugely influences their team’s physical and emotional wellbeing.”

By steering the ship with steady hands, so to speak, great leaders keep stress to manageable levels for their employees.

9. It enhances teamwork and productivity

When leaders can manage their own reactions and behaviors in a way that fosters respect and support, employees can do the same with one another. Team productivity is also strengthened when clear feedback and instructions are given, as each employee feels that their work truly matters in achieving bigger organizational goals.

Poor leadership, on the other hand, can quickly promote unhealthy competition between colleagues, as well as communication breakdown and a sense that “it’s every man for himself”.

10. You’re future-proofing your business

Consider all the benefits we’ve mentioned so far about equipping those in leadership positions with the skills required to crush their job. We’ve seen how competent leaders promote relationship building within the workplace and keep stress to a minimum by responding to challenges rather than reacting impulsively to them.

All of this can give a company a competitive edge among its rivals, helping to ensure that it has a long, prosperous future ahead.

Final thoughts

As we’ve seen, organizations benefit in multiple ways from investing in leadership development programs. When managers and bosses can demonstrate important leadership skills, like self-awareness and reliability, they help promote a work culture that benefits everyone on the team, from the youngest interns to the most seasoned executives.

At a time when employee loyalty appears to be on the decline, prioritizing cultivating these important skills in the workplace can become a vital lifeline, allowing companies to carry on with their operations and not get lost among competitors who have simply acted sooner.

Can you think of any more ways that leadership development benefits businesses? Let us know in the comments section below.