The past year has been a year of unprecedented volatility, uncertainty, and change for leaders at all levels. People leaders, in particular, needed to be exceptionally agile while always working to maintain a composed, consistent, and poised demeanor for their employees. They needed to be mindful of not just their own behaviors, attitudes, and words, but those of others so they could mitigate burnout, stress, and even animosity. They needed determination, stamina, vision, and a whole lot of grit to make it through, and despite the ups and downs, here we are a year later.
In retrospect, there are a number of leadership topics the everyday people leader would have benefited from receiving training on before it all began, but that’s hindsight for you. Instead, we can take the events and learnings from the past year and use them to inform our personal development plans for the year to come. If now feels like the right time to invest in yourself in preparation for whatever is yet to come, consider the following leadership training topics as a place to start.
From Slack to Zoom, to Teams and WhatApp, there are more communication channels to keep track of than just emails, texts, and calls. As a people leader, you need the communication skills to assess a situation, craft a message, determine the right channel, and manage your delivery. That’s because how you communicate is arguably just as important as what you communicate when it comes to leadership communications.
When it comes to accountability, it is exceptionally difficult for you as the leader to require accountability from your direct reports, if you do not model the behavior yourself. So first and foremost, always follow through on a promise or agreement and own the outcomes, for better or for worse. Then seek out training that focuses on leadership accountability so you can learn the skills and tools needed to set accountabilities and hold direct reports to them.
If you haven’t already, you may find it exceptionally beneficial to invest the time and energy into developing the qualities of a VUCA leader (in other words, hone your change management skills). What does VUCA stand for you might ask? It stands for volatile, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and pretty well defines our current situation. In practice, VUCA leadership demands agility, openness, innovation, and empathy, all of which are important to possess as you work to keep your employee’s productivity and engagement up.
In the past year, organizations far and wide were called on by their customers, employees, and stakeholders, to tackle diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As a result, many organizations undertook diversity and inclusion initiatives with varying degrees of longevity. As a people leader, if you are committed to making every single one of your employees and colleagues feel valued and welcome in the workplace, you may want to invest in additional inclusion training. By taking personal responsibility for becoming an inclusive leader, you are not only showing your employees you care and hear their concerns, but set an example others will notice and possibly emulate.
Your ability to delegate the appropriate tasks at the right time, to the right people, will keep you from falling into the trap of micromanaging your employees and potentially negatively impacting their engagement and productivity. Granted, delegating comes easier to some than others. So, whatever your comfort and experience level is, delegation training can come in handy as it provides you with actionable tools and the confidence you need to make it happen.
Mindfulness and self-awareness
As a people leader, a significant amount of your week is spent focused on your employees, bosses, colleagues, and customers, that it can be hard to find the time or even justify the time spent looking inwards. Yet doing so will only positively contribute to your success, not just in the next year, but throughout your career in leadership, as practicing mindfulness in the workplace increases your self-awareness, focus, emotional intelligence, and much more. For some, this sounds good in theory but can be difficult to put into practice. Fortunately, mindfulness training that is specifically designed for leaders will help demystify the process.
Coaching and feedback
What do the best coaches in sports and business do? They collaborate with their players to create strategies. They are the first to help a player tackle a problem. They remain calm in a storm and cheer the loudest when their player wins. As a people leader, you want to do all of this for your employees by providing coaching and feedback in a timely, relevant, and actionable manner. This will not only help you be a better leader but contribute to your employee’s engagement with their job and overall satisfaction.
Collaboration and teamwork
There are times when collaboration among employees just happens. Then there are others where collaboration and teamwork simply won’t happen without a little intervention on your part. As a people leader, you should be prepared to encourage both intact and cross-functional teams to collaborate using tactics such as defining a common goal, encouraging resource sharing, setting roles and responsibilities, or opening up lines of communication.
Interpersonal conflicts are going to occur whether you work side-by-side in an office or hundreds of kilometers away over Zoom. Unfortunately, the absence of face to face communication, coupled with heightened feelings of stress and burnout, can create a “perfect storm” where employees, leaders, and peers misinterpret, or altogether miss, verbal and non-verbal communication cues. As many teams continue to work remotely, training that hones your conflict management skills will ensure you have the necessary tools to handle conflicts in the workplace quickly and thoroughly.
Conclusion: Invest in Leadership Training Topics That Support Your Goals
What good will it do to invest time, money, and energy into leadership training that doesn’t cover a topic you really need? Whatever training you decide to make the investment in, be sure it suits your unique needs and meets your defined goals. Ultimately, it should make you a better, more well-rounded leader who feels prepared to take on the unknown challenges that may come your way.
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