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What Works in Leadership Development

You’ve probably heard that leaders aren’t born, they’re made. Most experts believe this to be true, but what isn’t as commonly agreed on is how great leaders develop.

For every business leadership development program, there’s a different methodology that’s “cracked the code” on what it takes to produce great leaders. It’s evolved into a $14 billion industry that makes companies feel like they’re moving the needle in the right direction if they spend enough.

You don’t have to systematize the process to create strong leaders. Here’s a look at four proven actions that contribute to best-in-class business leadership.

#1: Lead with Authenticity

Be honest with yourself and others.

One of the oldest pieces of business leadership advice is also the most effective: lead by example. Business leaders that act and serve authentically will have more influence over others than those who don’t admit to fault, hide mistakes, or otherwise aren’t vulnerable to consequences of their actions.

Being an authentic leader is as simple as asking for feedback from your team, admitting when you don’t have an answer, or keeping true to your word. Your employees will respect you more when you’re not a perfect corporate entity.

#2: Recognize Your Team Members

Great leaders give credit where credit is due, even if their team doesn’t expect any formal recognition. When employees achieve their goals, make discoveries, or find ways to improve, call them out for it. This goes a long way in showing you’re paying attention, especially for employees who aren’t accustomed to earning accolades for their contributions.

When you go out of your way to foster a team environment and build a culture of influence, others are likely to follow suit.

#3: Make Yourself Available

Make time for the people who need you.

Business leaders shouldn’t be unreachable entities that are always behind closed doors or stuck in meetings. Rather, they work alongside the employees they lead, have open doors, and a desire to listen to and learn from their team.

It’s not enough to say you have an open office policy or are there if anyone needs you. Make yourself approachable and encourage others to engage with you. Be a mentor that’s just as invested in others’ success as they are.

#4: Focus on Business Outcomes

Business leadership development isn’t just about being someone that other people like and respect. It’s also about being effective at achieving business goals.

Think about your company’s objectives. What obstacles are in your path that are putting those goals in jeopardy? What must you do as an effective business leader to demolish those obstacles and carve a path to success?

Sometimes, being a good leader means making tough decisions for the good of your team, even if it’s not a desirable outcome for everyone. You may lose good people in the process. If sacrifices and cutbacks mean an ultimately healthier company, then those who tough it out will respect you all the more for it.

Are you working on improving your business leadership? Find more insightful tips and stories in our Leadership section.