LinkedIn Learning reports state that, just 15% of employees feel the training they receive prepares them for leadership and management roles. So, how do we increase this number to better support our leaders to support their teams?

Picture you’re at Build-A-Bear Workshop, but instead of stuffed animals you’re developing the ideal supportive leader. What characteristics are you going to combine?

  • Empathetic
  • Approachable
  • Transparent
  • Dependable

Now imagine all the attributes coming alive in the embodiment of a supportive leader. How are you going to develop these characteristics? Through training of course! Leaders have full plates, so it’s important to ease into these practices and not overwhelm them. One way to help ensure busy managers get the knowledge they need is through microlearning. Check out these examples of microlearning leadership development lessons.

What training topics are important for developing supportive leaders?

1. Emotional Intelligence

Let’s start with the fundamentals of leadership training and emotional intelligence.

Leaders who exhibit low emotional intelligence can create difficulties in communicating and cause misinterpreted perceptions about how a colleague is feeling.

Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to manage their emotions to maneuver through difficult situations and can model this behavior for their employees. Emotional intelligence requires leaders to tune into their emotions before they react to the actions of others and much of that comes from putting themselves in others’ shoes. Training your managers on the four components of EQ, self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management, will help develop compassionate and empathetic leaders.

2. Delegation

With so much on their plates, managers need to be able to effectively delegate, but for some it doesn’t come naturally. Give your managers the tools for how to effectively delegate by training them on topics like decision making, time management, setting expectations, and prioritization. Encourage managers to talk with their team about what is a priority and what is not. Encourage your managers to ask their employees for feedback. Often times there can be a disconnect between managers’ priorities and the employees’ experience, so encouraging open dialogue can dilute any issues or confusion.

Leaders have to strike the balance between managing effectively but not micromanaging. Our lesson in the BizLibrary Collection, How to Stop Micromanaging- and why, suggests managers explain the “why’ and not the “how” to employees when delegating. It can take some practice for managers to get this right, so consider offering practice coaching sessions to complement training.

3. Communication

 Be present. Having a “the door is always open” policy can only be true if managers are there. This may vary based on remote work life or in-person, it is important to train managers on how to communicate through multiple channels and encourage them to take the extra step to be transparent and deliver actionable feedback. If your company is virtual, train your managers on virtual communication and encourage them to keep up with a group chat to keep their presence known to their teams.

Keep employees in the loop. One of the best ways to inspire employee loyalty in the midst of change is to be transparent about it.

4. Active Listening

This is an important skill for managers to master because it allows employees to feel like their voice is being heard. Paraphrasing and summarizing are important skills for managers to practice, helping clear up ambiguity or misunderstanding. Even training on a topic like body language can help improve a manager’s listening skills. There is a substantial difference between listening to respond and listening to understand and they both are important, but it is vital to have your managers know when to use one or the other.

Some of these traits take time to master and develop, which is why practice, practice, practice will help managers become better active listeners.

5. Employee Development

Teach your managers how to not get tunnel vision on just organizational development and work on developing their employees. For your leaders to be supportive, you must encourage managers to work with employees to set goals or engage in cross training to help prepare for roles they might qualify for in the future.

An additional tip is to start a mentoring program within the organization. A mentoring program gives new leaders a chance to work with more experienced leaders and get feedback on the skills they’re learning. You could also consider creating a mentoring program for high potential to start learning leadership skills. This will help develop sustainable connections and create leadership skills for the mentee to one day lead their own employees. A study from Mentoring.org revealed that those who take part in a mentoring program are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

6. Servant Leadership

The ideology behind servant leaders is to be a supportive leader. A traditional leader’s focus is identifying obstacles for the success of the company, however a servant leader identifies obstacles for employee’s success. “Servant leadership is important because it creates a nurturing environment where workers feel like they are head, appreciated and respected.”

Traditional LeadersServant Leaders
Sees leadership as a rank to obtain.Sees leadership as an opportunity to serve others.
Uses power and control to drive performance.Shares power and control to drive engagement.
Measures success through output.Measures success through growth and development.
Speaks.Listens.
Believes it’s about themselves.Understands it’s not about them.

For further information on developing leadership skills check out our ebook that demonstrates how to identify the skills your managers need, the people primed for leadership, and what it takes to develop a well-rounded team.