Five Steps to Close the Leadership Gap

Developing and refining workplace skills
A perceived lack of leadership within firms of all sizes is a recurring theme in business journals and other literature. But how can you help close the “leadership gap” at your company? There are no guarantees, but these five suggestions could aid your efforts.

1. Focus on the specifics. It may seem obvious, but training programs designed to improve leadership skills often ignore this strategy. Many such programs follow generic standards, but a better idea may be to develop those precise talents needed for your business. Don’t settle for a cookie-cutter approach. Start by identifying your leadership skills gap and what you have to do to address the situation at your company.

2. Aim to solve real issues. Along the same lines, the best way to develop leadership skills is to address actual issues that occur, preferably at the workplace. Team building in the woods or on a river may be beneficial (as well as fun), but the practical usage is not the same. It is more useful to concentrate on achieving current objectives. This can facilitate your key projects at the same time that you enhance leadership skills. What’s more, it may require several leaders to work together to be successful.

3. Learn from your experiences. If, at a minimum, you follow the first two steps, you will be far ahead of many other businesses. Keep the momentum going by refining the training program as you go along. In other words, react to what you have learned up to this point, and incorporate those lessons into the training. As a result, your program will continue to evolve over time. Again, this differs from a traditional approach that remains rigid and fails to take changes in circumstances into account.

4. Remain committed. All too often in the business world, a company will embark on a training program but unintentionally abandon it when other, more pressing matters take precedence. This is particularly true with training sessions where the results are difficult to quantify. Of course, you will still have to “put out fires” when they arise, but you must stick with a leadership program through thick and thin to attain the best results. There may be no overnight miracles, but you will see some positive forward movement after a few months.

5. Monitor the proceedings. Be­­cause a successful program requires commitment, it is important to track the plan’s progress. Develop a system to correlate the training to productivity or other workplace benchmarks. Make an assessment, and discuss these findings with the program participants. But don’t stop there: Use the information you have garnered to further adjust the training regimen.

Remember that there is no wrong way or right way to try to fill a leadership gap. Furthermore, any efforts in this area are likely to reflect the personality of business ownership and the corporate culture. Nevertheless, devising and coordinating a plan of action is likely to produce better results than no plan at all.

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