Hiring young, talented, and hungry employees is often one of the most effective ways for HR leaders to impact their workforces. However, with young employees comes a challenge that very few can master: teaching and developing leaders from those diamonds in the rough. Finding someone with leadership potential is integral to building a successful organization and workforce, but it’s not something we need to take lightly. It is one of our more important tasks.
Knowing how to develop leaders is an essential skill for not only HR but managers as well as C-Suites. Everyone involved in the hiring and talent development process must understand leadership development areas. Most notably, we need to understand what we can teach and simply cannot.
Need help building your talent development program? Our learning management system can help you train, upskill, and develop leaders from your existing workforce. To schedule a demo of Trakstar Learn, you can click here.
5 Leadership Skills You Can Teach When Developing Leaders
Can you build a leader? That’s a question many of us ask ourselves when we have an employee with a lot of talent, but they are just too timid, too quiet, or not great at communicating. Leaders look different in every organization; sometimes, what one leader has will be enough for an entire team. Other times, leaders need to have that skill regardless of where they work. Before you decide to develop leadership skills within your existing talent pool, you need to run an audit and see what exactly you want to teach.
You can’t teach leadership skills overnight. These skills are likely to change and evolve – good leaders always adapt to the workforce, times, sprints, and ongoing feedback. No one can remain static and be a good leader.
Teaching organization isn’t really about teaching how to be organized – most people know, at least in theory, how to do that. The key is to teach someone to be habitual and regimented within the tools available. How can we do that? Teach them how to block off time in their calendars for organization, show them different ways to organize their schedules so that they can focus on tasks together, and encourage collaboration with organizational alignment.
As a leader, you’ll have to identify where your other leaders are struggling with organizational habits and where they are excelling. Then, use those who are succeeding to teach their ways to others who aren’t growing. Promote the available tools to your employees and show them how to use them.
The key is not teaching someone how to be organized but teaching them how to be organized with what they have – it’s a subtle difference, but it is crucial.
Empathy is one of the essential skills for leaders and is one of the hardest to find. As Gen Z enters the workforce, we are seeing more and more empathy, but many of those employees aren’t ready to be leaders just yet. It may be worth it to utilize your multigenerational workforce and have younger employees work with your older ones to explain things related to DEI in a structured format. Build a DEI course on your learning management system and have your employees go through the process of taking it.
However, knowing and recognizing our differences isn’t the only part of empathy. To truly teach empathy, HR leaders have to model that behavior. Share stories that teach empathy, hire people from different backgrounds, so your employees can experience other types of people, and work on inclusion BEFORE someone enters your workforce – not once they already have.
Empathy is the skill you need to continually teach and bolster. You will never be done teaching someone how to be empathetic.
Communication skills are complex. Teaching someone how to communicate isn’t easy, but it can completely change their lives – inside and outside work! Communication skills grow slowly and require a lot of experience. With remote workplaces and hybrid environments, it’s harder to communicate with coworkers, clients, prospects, the C-suite, and more. You need to divide and conquer the different communication styles so that your employees feel comfortable communicating in person, in writing, over Zoom, on the phone, and even in written form, like text messages, email, and Slack messages.
You can use a learning management system to teach communication skills to work through common problems and solutions. However, you’ll also need to use mistakes as learning opportunities.
How well do your leaders solve problems? It’s difficult for many people, but leaders tend to have better problem-solving skills than others. Often, problem-solving skills come from experience, time in a position, and knowledge about the tools they can use. Educating your employees about what is available and providing them with what they need can help them develop into better problem solvers.
You can also encourage problem-solving skills by modeling them for your employees. When they see you being a problem solver, they are more likely to do the same thing.
Leaders should be honest with themselves, their employees, and their leadership. Sometimes, honesty doesn’t make us look good, which can lead some people to lie, avoid the truth, or try to cover things up. That isn’t a true leader. No one will always be perfect at their job; there will be moments when someone makes a mistake, or something goes wrong.
Authentic leadership is found in those moments. Who should be held accountable? What can you realistically do to course correct? It’s a tough conversation sometimes, but being honest and facing the consequences defines leadership in times of turmoil.
3 Leadership Skills You Can’t Teach
When you’re looking for your very own rainbow unicorns as you’re hiring, are there leadership skills that you can’t really teach? Some skills people have a more challenging time developing than others. While almost everything can be taught, to an extent, there are three specific skills that most leaders have that the typical person does not have – and they cannot be taught by most people.
When developing leaders, you want to look for employees who have these skills naturally because they aren’t easily taught:
One key skill that most leaders have is resourcefulness. While we all hope our employees will never go without the tools and team members they need, they likely will. Everyone benefits when you have visionary leadership.
Resourcefulness often comes with time. We don’t see this trait in people who don’t have a wealth of experience. Some other characteristics to look for that signal resourcefulness include creativity, the ability to work under pressure, and efficiency. Employees with this skill typically have a background in agency work or freelancing.
It’s a skill that most of us lack – and you wouldn’t classically categorize it as a skill, but it is. Personal confidence is something some people can be born with, but often it’s something that develops over time. However, it’s hard to teach confidence. This skill comes from learning other skills and having repeatable successes.
Having the knowledge and skill set to do a good job breeds confidence – confidence in yourself, confidence in your team, and confidence in your leadership.
Gaining confidence in the workplace can be difficult, particularly for young people who are more likely to feel imposter syndrome, people of color, and women, particularly in male-dominated spaces. If you have someone who is a great worker and is developing other leadership skills but lacks confidence, the best thing you can do is give that person time and space to gain it.
It isn’t easy to teach someone how to be fair. A fair leader is essential in a world where we all carry unconscious biases and struggle to create equality. You can teach someone about empathy and give them the tools they need to succeed, but fairness and equity are hard to practice consistently.
HR leaders must constantly remind their leaders about fairness and equity with ongoing training and support. This isn’t something most of us will ever be perfect at – our own internal biases can be hard to overcome. It’s even hard to eliminate those biases when hiring teams or during performance reviews. Working in a group can help to increase fairness and keep everyone in check. Still, it can lead to tense conversations where those skills like empathy, communication, honesty, and problem-solving all come in handy.
Move Your Skills Gap Training Online With Trakstar Learn
If you are moving your leadership training online, you need to work with the best learning management system to help you get it done. With the job market as competitive as it is (for hirers!), you need to show an investment in your existing workforce and change them into the leaders that will take your organization to the next level.
At Trakstar, our software is purpose-built to keep employees engaged at every stage of talent development. We work extremely closely with HR leaders to identify what they need out of their learning management systems to build courses and identify how that ties into other areas of their jobs as well, including in applicant recruitment and hiring and performance management.