HR leaders must focus on leadership development — here’s why

Want to stay ahead of the leadership development curve? Add a Head of People Potential role to your C-suite.

Many C-suites lack a critical leadership role — Head of People Potential. As their title suggests, Heads of People Potential help unlock the potential in employees, turning them into much-needed leaders. 

Today, 80 percent of organizations believe in the vitality to develop leaders at every level of the company, but just 5 percent have prioritized leadership development. To improve leadership development and drive organizational success, companies must focus on cultivating employee potential and enhancing employee skill sets. 

Leadership development matters

Ignoring leadership development continues to be one of the biggest mistakes companies make. Most companies approach professional development as a form of transactional skill-building. They choose to primarily focus on skills like organization, delegation and time management. However, abstaining from developing employee potential and not providing essential leadership training has repercussions. In fact, according to one study, companies who lack leadership training miss out on employees improving their learning capacity by 25 percent and performance by 20 percent.

Companies that promote transactional training can expect transactional leadership. Transactional leaders typically struggle in organizations that value innovation and creativity since these leaders tend to be more inflexible compared to their transformational or participative counterparts. 

Lack of leadership training also creates more followers than leaders. While followers play a crucial role, companies fail to develop new approaches or strategies for employees to follow without leaders. Poor leadership guidance also leads to poor performance, lack of collaboration and high turnover. Leadership development doesn’t happen overnight. By playing the long game, companies reap the benefits of the more significant and measurable employee impacts. Impacts include greater self-awareness, empathy, grit and resilience. 

The responsibility of developing leaders lies in the hands of companies. But how do they get it done? 

How to approach leadership development

Promoting positive changes and championing improvement builds employee-organization relationships. The Head of People Potential owns the responsibility for implementing leadership training and coaching for employees at all organizational levels. 

Optimize employee potential

Companies must use a sustainable approach to help their employees advance and reach their full potential. Heads of People Potential can start by building a leadership pipeline with benchmarks at each stage. A blueprint of growth potential improves transparency and when paired with clear messaging, leaders can eliminate potential challenges in evaluating results.

Leaders provide employees with the resources they need to succeed and identify their unique skill sets and capabilities. When assessing leadership potential, Heads of People Potential should encourage leaders to look at an employee’s level of:

  • Service-orientation.
  • Self-awareness.
  • Curiosity.
  • Ingenuity.
  • Courage.
  • Vulnerability.

Employees should feel valued by their leaders, too. Recognizing employees for their accomplishments and providing thoughtful, candid and consistent feedback goes a long way in maintaining employee engagement. Some leaders and employees might find value, for example, in confidential, one-on-one coaching. Coaching and mentoring leaves a positive, lasting impact on employees and pushes them to navigate complexity, take micro-risks and build up confidence to listen to their gut and trust in their own judgment and decisions.

Promote leadership development 

Leadership development is crucial for cultivating a robust company culture. Companies fostering an environment that values professional development empower their employees to expand their skill sets through training programs and externships. Formal training, ongoing conversations and continued engagement ensure programs stick with employees. For company growth, leadership development isn’t a “nice to have” — it’s essential.

The power of interactive content

Incorporating interactive content into leadership development offerings sets the tone for continuous engagement. It invites employees to engage with learning content that prompts and demands employees actively participate and drive their own development.

Interactivity improves completion rates and deeper understanding of the content. Enhanced learning experiences also make the learning experience more enjoyable by stimulating creativity. Creativity — essential to growth and performance — improves problem-solving, reduces stress and motivates employees to think outside of the box. 

Whether your company already has — or recognizes the importance of — a Head of People Potential, equipping them with the right tools like an interactive content creation platform enables them to create engaging leadership development programs.

Every employee is valuable and has something to offer, which is why leadership development is critical for a company’s bottom line and employee morale. Each year a company delays leadership development, it loses 7 percent of their total annual sales. Procrastination equates to obsolescence.