Develop leadership skills through the right kind of leadership development program and you'll be impressed at your boosted capacity to motivate people and drive real business results. Such programs can not only help you inspire people on your team to work to the best of their abilities, but also to drive the strategic direction of your function or business - or even the entire organization. If you're committed to making that kind of difference, it just makes sense to invest in yourself and develop leadership skills.
Your on-the-job experience will go a long way towards developing your leadership skills, but probably won't be enough by itself to make you a truly high-performance leader. Leadership programs from top business management schools provide a proven way to quickly build the skills you need at each career stage. They can even help prepare you for more senior positions, so that you can hit the ground running from day one.
The best leadership development programs allow you to work on your own specific leadership challenge - be it personal leadership or business leadership. Not only does this provide immediate return on investment, but you'll develop leadership skills you actually need for your job - and be more likely to retain your learning.
Leadership coaching, either in small groups or individually, is a great way to develop leadership skills. It offers the rare opportunity to really examine your leadership style and receive honest feedback. Leadership courses that provide hands-on learning experiences will give you the feel for leveraging your innate leadership strengths. Exercises that help you translate your learning into concrete action plans are also extremely valuable. Even better are leadership courses that include support after the program has finished to help you implement your learning back in the office.
The short answer is that everyone at any career stage benefits when they develop leadership skills. A successful business needs people with effective leadership skills at every level - from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) down to project leaders.
Of course, the exact skills needed at different levels vary. A project team leader, for example, should probably focus more on developing personal leadership strengths such as team leadership skills. Such skills can be developed through a better understanding of human dynamics and behavior in different contexts, a deep level of self-awareness, and developing an effective leadership style.
More experienced managers need to build on this in order to mobilize people to achieve business goals. Such managers may need to focus more on developing cross-cultural and cross-functional leadership skills. And senior leaders need to combine their personal leadership skills with business management skills for setting strategic direction - and so lead their organization to breakthrough performance.
Clearly then, a lifelong approach to executive education is the way to become, and then remain, a high-performance leader. If your aim is to be a top leader, then you'll continually look for ways to develop leadership skills.
Want to make a career move to business leader?
Discover how IMD's Transition to Business Leadership program can prepare you for more senior positions.