3 Reasons Why Leadership Development is Important in the Workplace
By Adam Powers
As the Senior Manager of Glidewell Dental’s Learning & Development department, I am involved in creating, teaching and facilitating our leadership-based curriculum and business management programs. While the leadership development programs are relatively new to the company, the effects are very rewarding, three of which are hightlighted in this article.
1. Overcoming Vulnerability
Adults are unique learning specimens. As we grow older, we’re partly driven by fear in the learning environment. By nature, we want to have experience and we hate failure. A learning environment can create stress for some people, because it means we’re dropping our guard and saying, “I don’t know.”
In business, vulnerability is not seen as a positive virtue. Vulnerability is seen as weakness. Learning creates vulnerability for us. My goal is to teach people what’s actually happening behind their employees and themselves. In essence, this is to give them a better understanding about what’s happening behind the lens of the eye.
Age isn’t a factor in determining a person’s ability to learn something new and develop great habits within the workplace. What really matters is their openness. That’s how I can tell that someone will excel in leadership development. If we can minimize our defense mechanisms, we will thrive in any learning environment.
In the place of business, many “leaders” don’t want to admit that they don’t know something or can’t do something. Opening up is vulnerable for some people. I don’t agree with that mentality.
Instead, great leaders are able to express their lack of knowledge, but their desire to learn alongside their employees. They are able to model learning behaviors and say, “That’s actually what I promote and I’m going to model that!”
2. Experiencing Personal Growth
Personal growth from development and training affects not only the individual, but the group he or she is working with and the department as well.
On the personal side, we see individuals having more confidence in themselves and their ability. They begin to work with other people in a stronger way and they empower other employees.
We go through a series within the Lead Program, which is a Middle Management competency-based program. One of the objectives of the development program is empowering others through asking questions. For example, in a production environment, many managers and supervisors have their employees come up to them and say, “Here’s my case; solve it for me.” So, by you solving my problem, I get paid for you doing my work.
In the past, managers and supervisors would just say, “Oh, okay…” and they’d do it. After the leadership development program, they are more likely to say, “How do you think you need to solve this?” It might take more time to ask questions, but it solves a long-term problem. It’s about empowering employees to solve their own problems, rather than asking their manager to fix it for them.
There’s distinction in the people that have gone through this program on a personal level and professional level. I get bosses of these employees saying the same thing. They’ll come to me and say things like, “This person is drastically different than from the last 20 years that I’ve known him/her.”
3. Producing Tangible Outcomes
In my line of work, it’s asking if the employees that go through a leadership development program are more engaged with the business. How do we see that take place in the productivity of their environment? How do we see the level of engagement with their employees?
The other is productivity and profitability. If we have a higher level of engagement, we should then have a lower level of mistakes, because people are more focused on their job, because they’re more engaged with their job. They’re more empowered to do their job. In other aspects of business, you should see a lower turnover rate. People aren’t just cycling through the pipeline anymore. There should also be a higher return on investment (ROI) depending on whom you are developing.
Overall, there are significant differences between those who decide to further their professional skills by receiving leadership development training. It helps people overcome their fears of being vulnerable, letting their guard down, and learning alongside their colleagues and employees. There’s also a drastic difference in a person’s personal growth and their ability to produce tangible results for the work that they are doing.