4 reasons to invest in leadership training for everyone

Great leaders often come from non-traditional places. Here's why it's important to consider talent from a new perspective and encourage everyone to grow their skills
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As a leadership and change consultant, I believe “The Great Resignation” is shorthand for the collective sigh (or perhaps scream) that’s emanated from management and HR offices across the country as they watch key employees leave the fold.

As study after study attempts to answer the “why," leaders are thinking more immediately about their approach to talent management and developing strategies to retain their top talent.

Another idea is surfacing, too: Individuals that have always been considered top talent may in fact be standing in the way of new talent, quirky talent, creative talent, quiet talent, or diverse talent. Firms that overhaul their talent-management strategy to better understand the traits, skills, and capabilities required to drive business objectives are often better able to identify individuals who meet key criteria and prioritize them for development opportunities.

[ Also read What defines a high-performing IT team? 5 CIOs speak out. ]

Unsurprisingly, when you look at talent in new ways, different employees will rise to the top – especially within IT, where creativity and job performance are critically important. Leaders must look beyond the traditional top performers and invest in “who’s next.”

4 reasons to invest in leadership training

Here are four takeaways from conversations with leaders in multiple industries:

1. Leadership isn't born, it's nurtured

In other words, it’s disingenuous to use phrases like “She’s a natural-born leader.” Leadership is a skill that’s learned and practiced. Investing in people early not only gives them a vote of confidence but can help them improve their performance and increase your pool of top performers over the long run.

2. Leadership training induces loyalty

We are in one of the most competitive talent markets that most of us will experience in our lifetimes. As a result, if you don’t recognize and invest in the talent you currently have on staff, someone else will snatch them away.

If you don't recognize and invest in the talent you currently have on staff, someone else will snatch them away.

Investing in your staff demonstrates several key things: You value them, you care about their wellbeing, you care about their careers, and you are willing to do more than pay lip service. In turn, they will thank you and your organization with their loyalty. In fact, in a recent Gallup study, just 24 percent of workers strongly agree that their organization cares about their wellbeing. These employees are 69 percent less likely than all other workers to search for a new job and 71 percent less likely to report experiencing burnout.

3. Leadership training can align your employees with your brand promise

Leadership training is an opportunity to remind people about the company’s values, what you believe in, and the kinds of behaviors you expect them to exhibit, both internally and externally. This is the brand promise – and it’s not just the responsibility of your marketing team. As the heart and soul of your organization, your employees are the ones delivering your brand promise. Helping them understand what you expect from leaders and trusting them to deliver it will go a long way toward encouraging them to be internal brand advocates and external brand ambassadors.

4. Leadership training can demonstrate equity and inclusion

Making sure everyone is included in leadership training avoids any perception that you are playing favorites when selecting trainees. Those who want to continue on a leadership track will ultimately self-select, as will those who do not. If you consider training as an equal opportunity for all, you will undoubtedly uncover individuals with unique, diverse, and perhaps non-traditional leadership potential.

For any IT organization, these four reasons alone may not be enough to surface new leaders. You also need to create leadership opportunities – whether as a job description or a stretch assignment. Identify the traits you value in your leaders – and provide opportunities to develop them. Look for employees who might be ready to handle more responsibility, as well as those who can take the heat.

The sooner you do this, the sooner you will build the bench strength you will need to be confident and ready for your organization’s next challenge.

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

Diana Vienne is co-founder and senior partner of Notion Consulting, a leadership and transformation consultancy that helps organizations harness the full power of their people to drive change, advance their mission, and unleash their competitive edge.