When you suddenly get the job of leading an organization (nonprofit, volunteer or
corporate), it can be a pretty daunting challenge; the responsibilities inherent in managing people can be overwhelming.

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The stress of leading is not only limited to being the “head honcho” of an organization, mid-level managers, team leaders, and non-profit groups face the challenge of dealing with people at various levels on their team and this can be difficult to do in a manner that is beneficial to the company if the leader is not skilled in leading people. This is where leadership development could benefit all parties involved.

Being a leader is not exactly a natural talent. Yes, anyone can stand up and give people orders but that is not leadership. That may fulfill the most basic meaning of the word leadership but, what most organizations or businesses are looking for is effective leadership. This is why most top-flight businesses integrate leadership development courses or activities into their business schedule for their management-level employees as well as people who have leadership talent. This can take the form of a simple class or a business retreat. The goal of these activities is to enhance individual leadership skill which will have an impact at the macro level for the entire organization.

If you’re a management type, you’re probably wondering what these courses can do for you. You’re thinking that you’ve got your department, team or program in tip-top shape, meeting all the requirements and not a peep of complaint from your “subordinates”, and you did all of it with no help from a course. The problem with that sort of thinking is that you could be missing danger signs that could cause trouble for your department or organization. A leadership development course, training or retreat will provide you with the skills and tools to identify these danger signs and be able to head off any problems that it may cause later.

How do courses like these help you reach your goals? First, learning to lead needs the appropriate traits: you need to want to learn, have a drive to succeed, seek to improve yourself and be open to new experiences. Leadership development hones these traits into tools that will lead to win-win successes.  Secondly, numerous in-depth studies have reached the same conclusions.

Organizations that invest in leadership development perform better than those that don’t, they have an improved bottom-line for financial performance, attract and retain talent, drive a performance culture and increase organizational agility.  Bassie and McMurrer cited a study of 750 large, public firms. The bottom line: organizations with the best human capital practices provide returns to shareholders that are three times greater than those of companies with weak human capital practices.

Bersin & Associates found that companies with strategic approaches to leadership development are:  84% more effective at increasing the quality of their leadership pipeline; 73% more effective at improving overall employee retention; 67% more effective at increasing the engagement, retention and teamwork of leaders.

They also stated, “It is important to remember that leadership development is not just about developing leaders – it is about creating a culture of performance. There is a relationship between good management and employee commitment. Great leaders attract, hire and inspire great people. A mediocre manager will never attract or retain high-performing employees. Leadership development creates a magnet for high-performers and fosters a high-performance organization. This is why the organizations that are ‘built to last’ have strong histories of leadership development.”

Increase organizational agility: When facing changes in the business environment, 86 percent of companies with strategic leadership development programs are able to respond rapidly, compared with just 52 percent of companies with less mature leadership programs, according to Bersin & Associates.

Secondly, leadership development helps you to develop your empathy. Empathetic leadership leads to better understanding between management and the employees. This better helps to facilitate smooth working relationships and enables the easy resolution of any problems that may come up. Empathy training is a large part of any leadership development course, mostly because management sometimes loses focus on the viewpoint from the bottom of an organization.

Finally, leadership development encourages experiential learning. This means that you learn from experiences both on the job and off the job. Having the willingness to learn means also being able to accept that mistakes can happen – the key here is to make sure that those mistakes don’t happen again. This developmental way of learning that is open to feedback helps organizations to grow in an organic manner, even after setbacks that maybe crippling.

By now, it should be obvious that leadership development is an essential trait needed for any business or organization. Initiating leadership development in your company or investing in yourself can result in increased efficiency and dividends for you and your company. Ask me how I can help.

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Taunya A. Lowe, Ph.D. is the CEO of The Resurgent Group of Metro Atlanta, LLC and Director of Leadership Development for The Impact Experience, LLC, a human services and leadership development consulting firm located outside Atlanta, GA.  Speaker, trainer, coach, with the John Maxwell Team, author, professor, entrepreneur, and, the Siegel Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Character 2013 Phenomenal Woman. She is a skilled change agent with a focus on developing people and organizations. She enjoys combining her photography and writing to motivate, inspire and lead people toward growth and change. Order her debut book, Wanna Start a Riot? Change. http://www.wannastartariotchange.eventbrite.com  To learn more, visit www.theresurgentgroup.com and www.drtaunyalowe.com