Effective leaders help drive growth, encourage innovation, achieve objectives, and can have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Leadership development programs—designed to help professionals enhance their business knowledge and hone their soft skills—can turn ambitious executives into influential leaders by helping them hone their communication skills, learn how to resolve conflicts, and find ways to build trust among their employees.
In addition to professional development, pursuing an advanced business education can help aspiring executives develop the expertise they need to lead their organizations.
What Is Leadership Training for Executives?
Leadership training often serves two purposes. It can provide a foundation for individuals likely to become leaders as well as expand the capabilities and knowledge of those already in leadership roles.
While leadership programs generally focus on building both hard and soft skills, leadership development programs for executives are designed to meet the needs of the participants. Midlevel managers, directors, and newly minted executives will all require different types of leadership training. For example, new leaders may need to develop skills such as active listening, conflict resolution, and time management. Senior leaders may need training to keep up with new trends and technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.
The vast majority of organizations recognize that developing new leaders is critical to their long-term success. Training programs equip professionals with the skills to define their current situation, develop a strategic plan to improve that situation, and motivate their employees to achieve the goals of the strategic plan. This big-picture thinking provides a holistic approach to executive leadership.
What’s Covered in a Leadership Development Program?
Most leadership development programs for executives share a few key topic areas, such as coaching, change management, conflict resolution, problem-solving, project planning, delegating, and building trust within teams. Most programs cover business topics as well, such as data analysis, marketing strategies, financial management, and professional ethics. Overall, these programs focus on the powerful combination of developing business acumen while honing soft skills.
Following are some common leadership training topics.
Strategic planning is vital to the success of every organization. The strategic planning process involves thoroughly examining a company’s position in a particular area, setting goals to improve that position, and tracking progress toward those goals. Leaders must apply their knowledge and experience to develop strategies that align with the company’s larger goals—and continually analyze and revise those strategies to ensure they remain effective.
Leaders must oversee, manage, and motivate their teams. This may entail coaching and developing team members, managing conflicts, delegating tasks, inspiring collaboration, and encouraging employees to grow. Well-trained leaders can improve their employees’ performance, communication, productivity, and morale.
Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Communication training teaches leaders how to provide clear and specific direction to team members, give constructive feedback, and listen to input. Topics may include creating a productive environment for employees, improving cultural competence, and building cohesive teams. Great leaders build trust with their employees through open and constructive communication, creating a culture in which people feel comfortable making suggestions and sharing their perspectives, which can boost a team’s creativity and innovation.
Benefits of Leadership Development Programs for Executives
Leadership training that focuses on reinforcing positive behavior, encouraging open communication, and empowering employees can help executives cultivate a high-performance company culture.
Companies and employees can both benefit from training that emphasizes honing a personal leadership style. Developing as a leader requires that individuals take a close look at their current management and leadership skills to determine the leadership style that best suits them. An executive’s leadership style will influence how they implement plans and strategies to accomplish objectives. The best leadership style will highlight an individual’s strengths as a leader, which can help them thrive in their role.
Leadership training for executives can also teach interpersonal skills that allow leaders to combat bias, improve communication, and ultimately create a better work environment, which can improve employee retention. Employees want to be recognized and valued by their company. When they aren’t, they may search for another job.
Confident and effective leaders can improve employee morale, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. A team that has strong trust between leadership and employees is a more engaged and committed group—which can translate into a higher-performing workforce.
Lead With Confidence
Strong leaders engage employees, build relationships, inspire confidence, and enable innovation. But as legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once noted, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.”
Leadership development programs for executives can improve individuals’ strategic planning competencies and hone soft skills like communication and team building, empowering leaders to enhance morale and productivity.
The Washington State University Online Executive Master of Business Administration program is designed for anyone who wants to learn to lead more effectively. Backed by one of the world’s premier research institutions, the program teaches the skills needed to create comprehensive business strategies, apply executive leadership theories to real-world situations, and improve performance and outcomes.
WSU’s EMBA program also offers many networking opportunities for business leaders. In addition to connecting with fellow EMBA students within your virtual classrooms, you can take advantage of WSU’s many other networking opportunities, such as the EMBA Leadership Conference. This multiday event includes engaging sessions with accomplished business experts and the opportunity to meet other students, alumni, and faculty.
Learn more about how the WSU Online EMBA program can give you the edge you need in today’s competitive workplace.