Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once said

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” 

True leadership is about bringing out the best in your team. However, empowering your team requires continuous self-development. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday tasks and lose sight of the skills needed to inspire as a leader. That’s why ongoing leadership growth is crucial, whether you already lead or aspire to. 

At Tandem Coaching, our leadership development program helps you build the strategic mindset and emotional intelligence needed to drive change.

Start your leadership journey today by exploring our personalized approach.

Team members engaged in a conversation in an office setting.

What is Leadership Development?

Leadership development refers to teaching leadership competencies and mindsets to employees who can hold or potentially hold leadership positions.

It prepares current and future leaders to successfully guide teams, projects, departments, and organizations by enhancing critical skills like:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Change management
  • Team building

The objective is to create well-rounded leaders who can thrive in dynamic, evolving business environments and lead initiatives that move organizations forward.

According to a Deloitte survey, 86% of executives rated leadership as an “urgent” or “important” priority. However, only 13% of responders said they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels!

Companies investing in leadership development report stronger bench strength, cultural alignment, and talent retention.

What is a Leadership Development Program?

A leadership development program is a structured training initiative that teaches leadership skills over a period of time through various forms of education and hands-on experiences.

Programs can take many forms, including:

  • Cohort-based programs: Bring groups of leaders together for workshops, assessments, and collaborative projects over months.
  • Online/virtual programs: Delivered through virtual platforms, these programs offer flexibility for busy schedules.
  • One-on-one coaching: Provides personalized and confidential guidance from an expert coach.
  • Job rotations: Exposes high-potential employees to various leadership roles temporarily.
  • Stretch assignments: Challenges for employees to lead special projects beyond their regular duties.

The format varies depending on an organization’s needs, resources, and objectives, but the end goal is always expanding critical leadership capacities.

At Tandem Coaching, we offer a cutting-edge leadership development program tailored to the needs of high-potential leaders preparing for their next big role.

This intensive 9-month cohort-based program helps you achieve mindset shifts from reactive to proactive leadership!

Through 360-degree assessments, 1-on-1 coaching, interactive workshops, and group collaboration sessions, you gain the capabilities to steer change and drive results.

Start your leadership journey with Tandem Coaching today!

Why is Leadership Development Important?

The business world is constantly changing these days. New technologies, economic shifts, global events, and market disruptions create uncertainty and rapid change that organizations must adapt to. 

This situation of constant flux is sometimes called VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

With VUCA as the new normal, investing in leadership development has become essential for organizations to succeed in fast-moving business environments.

Here are some key reasons why leadership development matters:

  • Enhances performance & growth: Better leaders achieve better business results. Leadership development improves skills and behaviors tied to performance.
  • Preparing future-ready leaders: With disruption ahead, development programs prepare talent to steer leadership growth and innovation.
  • Drives culture alignment: It connects employee development to organizational values and culture.
  • Boosts retention: Leadership programs provide learning/growth opportunities. According to PwC research, employees today are eager for development, with 77% saying they are ready to learn new skills. They’re also more likely to stay.
  • Improves succession planning: Focusing on leadership development strengthens the talent pipeline at all levels.
  • Builds resilience: Challenging assignments build critical soft skills like agility, empathy, and learning orientation.
  • Enables change management: Leadership development equips professionals to effectively adapt to changing priorities and new initiatives.
  • Cultivates diversity: Exposure to different leadership styles and mindsets promotes inclusivity and diverse thinking.

The World Economic Forum predicts leadership and social influence skills will be among the top workplace competencies by 2027. This underscores why leadership development is a strategic priority for organizations globally.

Those who invest in customized programs aligned to their business cycles and goals also see substantial returns on their investment. For every $1 spent, the company earns a profit of $4.15. The ROI is clear!

List of Essential Leadership Development Skills

Well-rounded leaders need capabilities spanning hard skills, soft skills, and self-management:

Hard Skills

  • Strategic thinking: Ability to analyze the competitive landscape and chart an effective vision and roadmap for the future.
  • Financial acumen: Understanding key financial levers that drive organizational performance.
  • Data literacy: Using data to inform critical decisions and measure impact.
  • Digital fluency: Leveraging technologies to enhance processes, systems, and capabilities.

Soft Skills

  • Communication: Conveying complex ideas, managing key stakeholders effectively, and public speaking abilities. Using NLP methods improves how you communicate.
  • Collaboration: Bringing aligned teams together to work towards unified goals.
  • Empathy: Understanding different perspectives and connecting on an emotional level.
  • Creativity: Fostering cultures where innovative ideas can emerge.

Self-Management

  • Adaptability: Adjusting leadership approach and priorities amidst changing conditions.
  • Accountability: Taking ownership of decisions, outcomes, and mistakes.
  • Resilience: Bouncing back from setbacks and challenges.
  • Mindfulness: Maintaining self-awareness and managing stress levels.

This combination of strengths prepares leaders to handle complex challenges on both organizational and personal fronts.

Three women collaborating on laptops with coffee cups and notebooks.

3 Phases of Leadership Development

As leaders gain skills and experience, they evolve across three key phases:

1. Emerging Leader

Emerging leaders transition from individual contributors to people managers, needing to develop core management abilities, such as:

  • Clarifying team roles/responsibilities
  • Providing effective feedback
  • Building trust
  • Managing meetings
  • Balancing day-to-day and future thinking

2. Developing Leader

With management basics in hand, developing leaders (Mid-level professionals) work on advanced skills, like:

  • Establishing long-term strategic orientation
  • Aligning teams behind organizational goals
  • Managing priorities amidst competing demands
  • Influencing change across the business
  • Enhancing communication beyond your immediate domain

Stretch assignments and assessments build the capabilities for organizational influence and strategy.

3. Strategic Leader

Finally, strategic leaders (Senior executives) focus on enterprise-wide proficiencies such as:

  • Setting company vision and strategy
  • Leading organizational transformation
  • Achieving sustainable business results
  • Championing innovation to drive competitiveness
  • Managing succession planning for continuity

While the required competencies evolve across phases, leadership development is always about expanding critical skills for increasingly complex roles.

Business meeting with a woman presenting documents to colleagues around a table in a modern office setting.

Components of Leadership Development

Holistic leadership development combines different parts working together:

Hands-On Experience

On-the-job experiences, such as special projects, job rotations, interim management roles, etc., provide invaluable opportunities to apply developing skills.

Assessments

360 assessments, personality, and leadership style indexes provide insights into self-direct development.

Networks

Peer networks inside and outside the organization offer diverse perspectives and promote ongoing learning.

Action Learning

Participating in workshops/seminars, tackling real business problems, and implementing solutions help you develop critical leadership skills.

With a focus on these critical areas, organizations can build leadership talent.

A man giving a presentation to a group in a classroom setting.

How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace

You can take practical steps to become a more decisive leader in your workplace:

1. Listen Actively

It is one of the most vital skills for modern leaders.

Studies reveal that 86% of employees feel their voices go unheard; 63% believe their managers ignore them. This lack of listening damages workplace culture.

You can counteract these trends by honing your active listening as a leader. 

Tips include:

  • Give your full attention when others are speaking. Don’t interrupt or multitask.
  • Ask thoughtful follow-up questions to show you’ve understood them.
  • Paraphrase key points back to the speaker to confirm you’ve grasped what they mean.
  • Provide relevant input without judgment.
  • Convey genuine interest through positive body language like nodding and eye contact.

Developing active listening skills makes employees feel valued. Per research from Salesforce, employees who feel heard perform 4.6 times better. They are also more engaged.

With $550 billion lost annually due to disengagement, ensuring workers feel listened to should be a priority.

Listening actively benefits leaders as well. It builds trust, enhances perspective-taking, and garners insights to fuel better decision-making.

2. Keep Learning

Constant business changes require leaders to keep learning. Recent LinkedIn data shows organizations rank learning opportunities as the #1 driver of positive retention.

As a leader, you should exemplify a growth mindset focused on continuous skills development.

Ways to keep learning include:

  • Take courses relevant to leadership, either online or in person. Look for skills gaps to fill.
  • Read books, blogs, and podcasts about leadership, productivity, culture, and other topics to expand your knowledge.
  • Attend conferences, talks, and workshops. Interact with thought leaders.
  • Try job shadowing. Observe other leaders and teams.

Continuous learning exposes you to new ideas and perspectives. It also shows your team that growth matters.

For a complete leadership development program customized for high-potential leaders, consider our 9-month intensive cohort-based offering. It combines 1-on-1 coaching sessions, 360 reviews, interactive workshops, and peer learning to maximize leadership potential.

Contact us today to discuss how our transformational leadership development can accelerate your career growth.

3. Promote Collaboration

Bring your team together to solve problems.

Ways to encourage collaboration:

  • Form diverse teams with cross-functional expertise to spur innovation.
  • Foster open communication and input from all team members.
  • Define a collaborative process for decision-making.
  • Build team bonding through offsites and social events.
  • Celebrate group accomplishments, not just individual ones.
  • Ask “What do you think?” and actively listen to responses. Value all voices.

A Forbes study says that inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. Teams using a collaborative process decide faster, require 50% fewer meetings, and deliver 60% better results.

Collaboration taps into collective intelligence. Make “we” decisions, not “me.” Eventually, it benefits everyone – leaders, teams, and organizations.

4. Develop Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows you to understand and manage your emotions and recognize and respond effectively to others’ emotions. 

Developing EQ results in stronger workplace relationships, communication, and leadership. 

Ways to develop it:

  • Identify your emotional triggers at work. Notice your reactions.
  • Be self-aware. Reflect on how emotions impact your leadership style.
  • Show empathy. Listen closely to understand others’ perspectives.
  • Keep composure during conflicts. Take time to respond calmly.
  • Be flexible. Adapt your style to fit changing conditions.

When leaders grow their EQ, it positively influences team culture.

5. Ask for Feedback

Regularly asking for input shows that you value growth as a leader. It also identifies blind spots that are holding you back.

Ways to get feedback:

  • After meetings and projects, ask what went well and what could improve.
  • Schedule monthly or quarterly feedback reviews with your team.
  • Use anonymous surveys to gather candid input on your leadership.
  • Work with HR to conduct 360 reviews.
  • Thank team members for their perspectives and implement their suggestions.

Bill Berry, a leader at Tacoma Power, thought his change initiative was successful until blunt feedback revealed some serious problems. 

Realizing he needed a better system, Berry now regularly asks for input on his strengths and areas for improvement.

Though not always easy to hear, feedback is a gift. It provides invaluable insight into how you are perceived. The most effective leaders actively seek it rather than avoid it.

Make feedback part of your regular growth as a professional.

Team brainstorming session with post-it notes on a corkboard, discussing ideas around a table.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some common leadership development questions:

Some common challenges are a lack of objective assessment criteria, an ineffective transfer of classroom concepts to on-the-job application, a lack of reinforcement mechanisms post-training, and mismatched content that fails to meet organizational needs.

At Tandem Coaching, our winning leadership development program shares common traits like:

  • Customization to company culture and objectives
  • Commitment from senior leadership
  • Voluntary participation
  • Established competency models guiding development
  • Multi-modal delivery blending formal learning with on-the-job experiences
  • Built-in tools to track progress and measure effectiveness
  • Ongoing support

With these key characteristics in place, our program drives lasting positive change within your organization.

Common styles are democratic (collaborative), authoritative (direct, task-focused), affiliative (relationship-oriented), pacesetting (leading by example), and coercive (demanding compliance). Adaptive leaders blend elements of various styles as needed.

There are various nuances between these broad leadership archetypes. We'll explore leadership styles more later.

Conclusion

To wrap up, developing leadership skills pays off big. As you’ve seen, listening actively, learning continuously, encouraging teamwork, having emotional intelligence, and asking for feedback are vital ways to improve leadership capabilities.

But growth requires commitment.

For companies wanting a complete leadership development program, check out Tandem Coaching. Our 9-month program pairs 1-on-1 coaching, 360 reviews, interactive workshops, and peer learning to maximize leadership potential. 

With experts leading the program and a proven method, we help leaders through tailored plans. If you want to unlock your leadership talents fully, see how Tandem Coaching’s program can speed up your success.