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Leadership Training Programs for Employees: 15 Skills to Teach

Andrew Langat
March 25, 2024
Image showing employees engaged in a leadership training session, collaborating and learning together.
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Just as Leo Tolstoy famously opened Anna Karenina with the observation that "all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy on its way," so too can we say that all successful companies share certain characteristics, while struggling teams often suffer from a unique combination of issues.

But unlike the tragic characters in Tolstoy's novel, your organization can rewrite its story by investing in initiatives such as leadership Training for employees to develop leadership skills.

A well-thought-out leadership development training program, either through workshops, online courses, and/or mentoring programs, empowers employees to become better team members and improve their leadership qualities and competencies, ultimately improving organizational performance.

The bottom line is that leadership training programs are not just a perk but an investment in your organization's future.

Below we review key leadership skills and why these valuable skills will help leaders improve business leadership and employee performance.

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15 Key Leadership Skills to Learn for Employees

To be a better leader and team member – and boost leadership abilities, here are fifteen different leadership styles and skills professionals can learn:

Essential leadership skills to train employees

1. Communication Skills

Knowledge of how to communicate effectively is vital for any employee with goals of assuming a leadership role in the future.

A management training or leadership development program for employees should specifically focus on key aspects of communication. Such programs typically cover:

  • Understanding different communication styles: Leaders need to be aware of their communication style and how others might perceive it. They also need to be able to adapt their communication style to the needs of their audience for maximum effectiveness. Some forms of communication styles include passive communication, aggressive communication, passive-aggressive communication, and assertive communication.
  • How to communicate clearly and concisely: Leaders need to communicate their ideas clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally. This means avoiding jargon and using language that is easy for everyone to understand.
  • Mastering Nonverbal Communication: Nonverbal communication includes body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. It can be just as important as verbal communication in conveying a message.
  • 5 Cs of Effective Communication: Employees should learn how to communicate with clarity, conciseness, consideration, completeness, and courtesy.

2. Constructive Feedback

Leadership training programs often incorporate modules on providing and receiving constructive feedback, a crucial skill for effective leadership and ultimately creating better organizational performance. Here's how these classroom leadership training programs can approach constructive feedback:

Teaching the importance of giving feedback:

  • Benefits: Employees learn how constructive feedback fosters personal and professional growth for individual employees, improves team performance, and strengthens trust and relationships within the team.
  • Negatives of ineffective feedback: Programs highlight the dangers of poorly delivered feedback, such as creating a defensive atmosphere, hindering motivation, and damaging morale. An example of ineffective feedback can include: "Your presentation wasn't good" or "You always miss deadlines!"

Teaching how to correctly give constructive feedback:

  • Giving feedback: Training covers techniques for delivering feedback in a constructive, specific, and actionable manner. This includes focusing on behavior rather than personality, using "I" statements, and offering suggestions for improvement.

    For example: "In your presentation last week, the data on slide 5 seemed inconsistent with the previous slide. Would you like to revisit that section?"
  • Receiving feedback: employees learn how to approach feedback – either positive or negative – with a growth mindset, actively listen, ask clarifying questions, and express appreciation for the feedback.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical attribute for people in managerial positions. Therefore, it's a vital component of professional development.

It encompasses various skills, including self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management.

Leadership training for employees can equip employees and experienced executives with the necessary skills to become emotionally intelligent leaders. Here's how:

Understanding the Importance of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Benefits: Training programs emphasize the benefits of EQ for leaders, such as:
    • Improved communication and decision-making
    • Enhanced conflict resolution
    • Increased employee engagement and motivation
    • Stronger team dynamics and collaboration
  • Understanding EQ Components: Programs break down the four key components of EQ and provide practical exercises to help participants develop each one:
    • Self-awareness: Recognizing one's own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.
    • Self-regulation: Managing emotions effectively and adapting to changing situations.
    • Social awareness: Understanding the emotions and perspectives of others.
    • Relationship management: Building and maintaining positive relationships.

Developing Emotional Intelligence Skills:

  • Activities and Exercises: Training programs offer various activities and exercises to help participants develop their EQ skills, such as:
    • Self-reflection exercises
    • Scenario-based role-playing
    • Group discussions and feedback sessions
    • Personality and EQ assessments

4. Relationship Management

Strong leadership relies heavily on effective relationship management with colleagues, superiors, and subordinates. Many leadership training programs specifically address this crucial skill and help participants develop this skillset.

According to Gallup, only 23% of employees globally feel engaged, revealing a gaping hole in workplace relationship management.

Annual employee engagement in the United States.

Here's how these programs can help employees develop their leadership team relationship management skills:

Understanding the Importance of Relationship Management:

  • Benefits: Training programs highlight the importance of effective relationship management, emphasizing its role in:
    • Building trust and respect within teams
    • Improving communication and collaboration
    • Facilitating conflict resolution
    • Enhancing team morale and motivation
    • Promoting employee engagement and retention

Learning How to Develop Relationship Management Skills:

  • Communication Techniques: Programs provide training on communication skills crucial for building strong relationships, such as:
    • Active listening: Paying close attention and demonstrating understanding of others' perspectives.
    • Empathy: Recognizing and responding to the emotions and experiences of others.
    • Clear and concise communication: Effectively conveying information and ideas in a way that is easy to understand.
    • Providing and receiving constructive feedback: Offering feedback in a way that is helpful and respectful, and being receptive to feedback from others.
  • Building and maintaining relationships: Training programs offer strategies for building and maintaining positive relationships, such as:
  • Showing genuine interest in others: Demonstrating care and concern for individuals and their well-being.
  • Celebrating successes and offering support during challenges: Recognizing and appreciating achievements while offering support during difficult situations.
  • Setting clear expectations and following through on commitments: Establishing clear boundaries and being reliable in upholding agreements.

5. Time Management

A meta-analysis research on time management revealed that when employees learn how to manage time, it leads to overall well-being and life satisfaction of individuals. As part of developing leadership skills promote teamwork, it leads to:

  • Prioritization: Employees prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, ensuring optimal use of time and resources in meeting deadlines. Some of the skills that can be learned as part of prioritization include The Eisenhower Matrix, The ABC Method, and time boxing.
  • Goal-Setting: Setting clear and achievable goals provides direction and focus for both individuals and teams.
  • Effective Delegation: Delegating tasks to the right team members promotes efficiency and empowers team members to develop their skills.

6. Adaptability

As H.G. Wells famously put it, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative." For forward-looking companies, ingraining this in company culture makes a company future-ready. Through training programs, corporate leaders and employees learn to be flexible in a changing environment

In teaching adaptability, leadership training programs teach the following key elements of adaptability:

  • Resilience: Resilient employees bounce back from setbacks, demonstrating perseverance and maintaining a positive outlook.
  • Innovation and Creativity: Encouraging a culture of innovation fosters creative problem-solving and continuous improvement.
  • Being better equipped to face challenges: The more adaptable a leader is, the better they will be able to support colleagues and direct reports in facing challenges and pivoting as necessary to address them.
  • Getting out of the comfort zone. Employees learn ways to get out of their comfort zone, such as taking advantage of corporate training programs to learn new skills, constantly interviewing, and how to manage up senior leadership for better career prospects.

7. Team-Building Activities

Team building activities are an integral part of creating effective team dynamics. They assist with nurturing potential leaders, inspiring strategy, giving first-time and experienced leaders a chance to organize events across departments, and assisting in conflict management. By teaching team-building activities, employees learn:

  • How to build and lead teams: Leaders create a positive team culture, fostering collaboration, communication, and mutual support.
  • How to motivate team members: Leaders inspire and motivate team members, aligning individual goals with the overall vision and mission of the organization.
  • Improving communication skills for business leaders and also for each individual team member.
  • Strategy execution, including solving team tasks, resolving conflict, and implementing change.
  • Effectively delegating tasks to direct reports or to other stakeholders to improve workflow.

Learn more about work retreat ideas here: Work Retreat Ideas to Re-Energize Your Team

8. Strategic Thinking

In the course of their work, employees will be required to be strategic. This can take the form of making strategic decisions within your own unit or department, advising current leadership, etc. Moreover, in team meetings, employees might be required to ask strategic questions, consider opposing ideas, etc.

Leadership development programs can further teach the following as part of strategic thinking:

  • How to Be Strategic: Employees with strategic vision inspire others by articulating a compelling and achievable future state that aligns with company vision.
  • Long-Term Planning: Strategic employees plan for the long term, considering organizational goals and potential challenges.
  • Aligning Actions with Organizational Goals: Leaders ensure that team actions are aligned with the broader objectives of the organization.
  • Uncover biases and understand how they impact leadership competencies and relationships.
  • Proper resource allocation, including advocating for the team and individuals.

9. Coaching and Mentoring

80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence. There is overwhelming evidence that coaching and mentoring make one an effective leader. As part of developing great leaders themselves, teaching this valuable skill assist employees to:

  • Develop and coach team members: Employees are taught how to invest in the growth of their team members and provide guidance and opportunities for skill development for individual team members. This assists with talent management, improvement of leadership qualities in others, improving company culture, and developing leadership skills.
  • Providing constructive feedback: Constructive feedback is essential for the continuous improvement and development of team members.
  • Knowledge transfer: Through coaching and mentoring, trained employees learn effective ways of knowledge transfer to junior or new employees. Ultimately this practice helps in the preservation of institutional knowledge. This can lead to preserving a customer-centric culture that is unique to your company in a competitive industry.

Learn more: What's the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring for Businesses?

10. Interpersonal Skills

Also known as "people skills," interpersonal skills in the workplace refers to how employees relate among groups and with other key stakeholders, such as customers. Where technical skills get the job done, interpersonal skills are what make you rise up the leadership ladder.

As part of a leadership development program, employees get to learn the following key elements of leadership development and interpersonal skills:

  • Building Positive Relationships (Relationship Management): Leaders build trust and rapport, creating a positive and collaborative work environment.
  • Networking: Effective networking helps leaders establish connections, share knowledge, and access valuable resources.
  • Building Rapport and Social Awareness: Leaders who build strong relationships connect with team members on a personal level, creating a supportive and inclusive culture.
  • Effective Communication: Mastering effective communication leads to eliminating ambiguity, making people want to listen to you, understanding non-verbal communication, etc.
  • Leading and Influencing Others: Possessing a high level of interpersonal skills builds trust and credibility. This makes implementing a preferred leadership style easy when an opportunity arises.

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11. Problem-Solving

Part of a manager's job is a simple and complex problem-solving. Good leaders need to master this vital skill.

Problem-solving skills are one of the most sought-after leadership skills used in the workplace today. Achieving advanced problem-solving skills requires a leader to have competency in analyzing the available problem, planning a sequence of actions, and generating instructions that will allow others to understand the situation and take action.

With leadership training, employees will get to learn the following key elements of problem-solving:

  • Analytical Thinking: Knowledge of analyzing complex situations and then breaking them down into manageable components for effective problem-solving.
  • How to Carry Out a Root Cause Analysis: Identifying and addressing the root causes of problems (HOW and WHY something happened) ensures long-term solutions. For example, being able to articulate the reasons for deteriorating company culture or why isn't the leadership team aligned with the company's core values is the first step towards envisioning and implementing steps to course-correct as needed.
  • Generating and Evaluating Solutions: Leaders explore diverse solutions, evaluating their feasibility and impact before making decisions.

12. Ethical Leadership

In the workplace, ethical and moral leadership training is in high demand. By providing comprehensive ethical leadership training to employees, organizations empower their workforce to act as ethical leaders in individual business units, hence fostering a culture of integrity, trust, and accountability.

Leadership training programs teach the following key concepts of ethical leadership:

  • Understanding Ethical Principles: Ethical employees become knowledgeable about ethical principles and values, guiding decision-making that includes respect for persons, beneficence, justice, and non-maleficence.
  • Making Ethical Decisions: Employees learn how to prioritize ethical considerations, enabling them to make decisions that align with organizational values.
  • Leading with Integrity: As Dwight Eisenhower aptly said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible." When employees learn to build trust and credibility, it leads to effective leadership they will utilize when they rise to a management role.

13. Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leadership involves adapting management styles to different contexts. It also entails championing diversity and inclusion, managing unconscious bias, and building inclusive, high-performing teams.

Culturally intelligent business leaders are more likely to unlock the full potential of their staff and make better business decisions. Toward this end, a leadership training program should teach:

  • How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion: Employees should learn how to actively promote diversity and inclusion, fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. A well-thought-out training session, for example, inviting guest speakers from diverse backgrounds to speak about their experiences, would include unconscious biases experienced and suggestions as to how corporate leaders can create better policies to make employees feel included in the workplace.
  • Fostering an Inclusive Culture: Leaders create a culture that celebrates diversity and that understands that diversity is an ongoing journey. This means embracing different perspectives and encouraging collaboration. This allows each team member to feel included and ultimately improves employee performance.

14. Influence and Persuasion

Training programs on influence and persuasion for employees focus on equipping employees with essential skills to effectively influence and persuade relevant stakeholders in the workplace. This can include senior leadership, customers, etc.

As part of core leadership skills, leadership training programs teach the following key elements:

  • How to Build Influence: Employees learn how to build credibility and leverage their expertise to garner support for ideas and initiatives.
  • Persuasive Communication: Employees learn to communicate persuasively, tailoring messages to resonate with the audience and inspire action.
  • Negotiation Skills: Effective negotiation skills enable leaders to reach agreements that benefit all parties.

15. Self-Management

Self-management involves regulating one's behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to contribute to a better work environment. It encompasses stress management, goal setting, and emotional regulation, all of which are crucial for personal and professional growth.

For example, take the example of John, in charge of executive development of project management systems in his organization. He understands that he needs to manage himself well so that the organizational design runs effectively.

As part of his self-management, John uses a bunch of software to organize meetings, set reminders, and track projects. This self-management has enabled him to rise in the management ranks. John also enrolled in a leadership training that help him navigate the following:

  • Stress Management: Leaders must manage stress effectively, maintaining composure and focus during challenging situations.
  • Time Management: Leaders prioritize tasks, manage their time efficiently, and avoid burnout. It is also important for them to share and model this skill for their direct reports.
  • Personal Accountability: Leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions, modeling accountability for the team.

Inspiring, isn’t it ? Want to learn more about connecting self-awareness to professional development? Get in touch today.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.