How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Modern Workplace

A professional business woman is learning how to develop leadership skills with a coach.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating effective leaders

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.” He may have been referring to the Green Bay Packers’ championship-winning run in the 1960s, but the quote is just as applicable to the business world. For any business to be successful, it needs leaders at all levels that inspire employees and produce results — but those capabilities take work to develop.

No one knows how to develop leadership skills in the workplace on their first day; it takes ongoing education and development, and these efforts are often driven by learning leaders who prioritize a continuous learning process throughout the company. Here’s how those leaders can effectively help employees develop leadership capabilities while taking into consideration the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace.

Skills vs. capabilities: What’s the difference?

To create a culture of leadership, leaders must build capabilities — not just skills. Skills refer to the knowledge or ability needed to do a specific task or job, while capabilities are a combination of those skills used within the context of the moment to overcome challenges and fulfill business strategies. Effective leaders rely on a toolbox of skills, including soft skills like communication, time management, and confident decision-making, in order to accomplish big-picture goals.

For example, a high-level manager should have the capability to develop others, which requires skills like delegation, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. When creating a leadership coaching program at your organization, think beyond individual skills you want leaders to develop; think about which capabilities are most needed to drive mission-critical initiatives.

How to develop leadership skills and capabilities in employees

Everyone in your organization develops differently and those at different levels will require different approaches. Executives can put these best practices into action to ensure all leaders  receive the support they need.

Develop high-potential individual contributors

Leadership is not synonymous with management. Even high-potential individual contributors benefit from leadership development because it provides opportunities for them to build out their capabilities.

Leadership development enables these contributors to identify opportunities to take the lead on group projects, observe how they work in these teams, and provide feedback. It may also help to diversify their tasks so they’re always learning new things, which makes them more well-rounded.

How can managers develop leadership skills and capabilities?

New managers often struggle with delegating responsibilities, instead remaining close to every project and micro-managing direct reports. They often flex their newfound responsibility and make too many changes too quickly, misunderstanding their role as a leader. They will need to support their teams and help direct reports develop their own abilities in line with business initiatives. Pairing new managers with leadership coaches provides them the opportunity to develop the leadership style that is most effective for them, their team, and their organization.

Provide coaching for executives

The leadership development journey doesn’t end once a leader enters the C-suite. Executives shoulder a lot of responsibilities and their decisions can have a direct impact on the success of the company. To be successful, they need subject matter expertise, impeccable communication skills, high emotional intelligence and empathy, and the capacity for self-awareness. A one-on-one learning approach works well with executives, but you’ll need to find a coach who is specially trained and preferably has C-suite experience.

Make remote workers feel like part of the team

Online leadership coaching is an effective way to support remote teams. However, remote and hybrid workers may require a different leadership development approach than those who work in-office, so finding a coaching platform that specializes in remote leadership is key. Online leadership coaching for remote employees should encourage accountability and autonomy, teach hybrid management capabilities, and foster good communication throughout your organization.

Consider different generational approaches

If you feel like Millennials are taking over the workplace, you’re not wrong! Representing 35% of the modern workforce, Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers and Generation X. Meanwhile, older members of Generation Z — those born between 1997 and 2012 — are already entering the workforce and making a significant impact. Members of each generation prefer different work styles and attributes, so flexible leadership development strategies are needed to support them all.

For tech-savvy Gen Z, that means leveraging technology for leadership development instead of traditional classroom settings. Millennials respect autonomy and meaningful work, so help them hone their capabilities by providing opportunities for professional development. As former latchkey kids, Generation X is fiercely independent, and their learning style reflects this.

Generational differences go even further. To learn more about supporting leaders of all generations as they develop their capabilities, download our free white paper: Leadership Development for a Multigenerational Workforce.

How to develop leadership skills: Partner with a proven leadership development platform

Implementing personalized development plans for different cohorts doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By partnering with the right leadership development platform, you’ll have access to everything you need, from one-on-one and group coaching sessions to measurement tools.

To that end, Sounding Board offers a seamless platform that expands coaching to leaders at all levels in your company. Instead of one-and-done training that’s quickly forgotten, Sounding Board’s ongoing approach incorporates behavioral science that leads to noticeable improvements in under six months. In fact, our clients have reported a 173% increase in leaders’ ability to successfully interact with others across all functions. Want to see it in action and learn more about how to develop leadership skills? Book a demo today.

See Us in Action

See how Sounding Board is revolutionizing leadership development through its coaching platform.

Related Articles

January 22, 2024
In 2023, I took a Big Leap. I took a career break to reconnect with my inspiration and intentionally pursue what I really, really wanted in life and in my career.
March 2, 2023
Traditional women in leadership development programs are great in theory, but not in practice. They’re built on faulty assumptions and mindsets.
May 23, 2024
Read our guide to learn what leadership development programs are available and how they can benefit your organization.
May 2, 2024
Dr. Laura Dannels, Chief Talent Officer, shares insights from Wellstar Health System’s leadership coaching program in partnership with Sounding Board.
April 25, 2024
We’re unpacking our joint Flash Report with HRO Today to uncover why so many leadership development programs fail to deliver results.

Transform Your Leadership Bench

Explore your end-to-end solution for leader transformation.