Plain and simple, leadership development programs are good for business. According to Gallup, companies prioritizing leadership development can expect employee engagement rates to double and earnings-per-share to increase 147%.

From first-time managers to directors managing global teams to VPs responsible for the productivity of entire business units, leaders at all levels need guidance to succeed. Yet, most aren’t getting the training they need. Nearly 74% of US leaders and 83% of global leaders felt unprepared for the challenges ahead as they stepped into new leadership roles. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for leadership development, but there are foundational topics that should have a place in every leadership training program. We’ve outlined those foundational leadership topics below. 

Driving outcomes with leadership development 

Only one out of ten people naturally possess the talent to manage teams. This fact isn’t meant to scare companies but rather to motivate leaders — of all levels — to invest in developing the leadership capabilities that can help them engage their teams, drive organizational change, and grow the business. The following five topics are emerging trends for leadership development in the next year. 

Influencing global teams 

Remote working has enabled companies to hire beyond traditional geographic boundaries. Today’s leaders are building teams that bring together the best functional expertise worldwide and helping those experts become high performers — all while never setting foot in an office. Despite the prevalence of productivity tools that keep global teams humming, global management is no straightforward task. To effectively manage diverse groups across time zones requires mastering the skills of influence and persuasion. 

Leaders of distributed teams must learn how to unite employees of varied work backgrounds while managing each one’s unique perspective on organizational challenges. By growing their persuasion and interpersonal influence skills, leaders become aware of how to find opportunities in challenges and how to protect the time and energy of their team members. 

Global influence training equips leaders to

How to lead inclusively

Diverse teams are more productive and produce better business outcomes, as McKinsey’s research finds. But, diverse teams alone do not guarantee employees feel belonging and inclusion at work. For employees to feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued within their companies, leaders must go beyond surface gestures of diversity and build systems of inclusivity into how they lead. 

Part of how leaders build an inclusive workplace is developing and refining their self-awareness and emotional intelligence. When a leader takes the time to reflect on and understand their emotions and behaviors, it helps deepen relationships with employees. By demonstrating empathy and nurturing belonging among their teams, leaders build an inclusive team dynamic where employees feel psychologically safe experimenting with new ideas.

Inclusive leadership training equips leaders to:

Motivating through positive leadership

A key, ongoing challenge for leaders is how to engage and retain their employees. One proven solution is creating a positive work culture by practicing positive leadership techniques. Positive leaders aren’t born that way. Instead, they practice positive skills every day. One way to practice positive leadership is by not allowing fear or anxiety to dominate your behavior. A culture of fear is often cited as one of the primary hindrances of employee engagement and innovation. 

While leaders don’t want to overcorrect to a culture of toxic positivity (feedback is a good thing!), intentional positivity is an important way for leaders to build engaged and productive teams. By learning how to utilize positive communication tools and build a purpose-driven culture, leaders help employees find meaning and greater satisfaction in their work. Harvard Business Review reports that employees who find work highly meaningful are 69% less likely to plan on quitting their jobs in the next six months.

Practicing positive leadership techniques equips leaders to: 

Innovating for business growth

As many leaders find themselves having to do more with less in a competitive economy, developing innovation becomes a vital skill. Innovative leaders can shift their mindsets to identify growth opportunities. Like creativity and positive leadership, innovation can be taught through best practices in collaboration, iteration, and learning. Mindset is also an essential piece of learning how to innovate. Leaders must shift their mindsets to focus on customer needs and apply methods to test, learn and reiterate.

Central to developing the skills and mindset that propels innovation is design thinking, a customer-centered approach to problem-solving. Leaders proficient in a design thinking approach can better guide innovative teams. From understanding customer needs to creating strong value propositions to identifying product gaps to prototyping solutions, the design thinking process helps leaders discover their customers’ motivations.

Business innovation training equips leaders to:

Driving business impact with HR 

The pandemic particularly impacted HR teams. From spearheading remote work to helping employees’ mental health and wellbeing to hiring and retaining talent in an ultra-competitive economy — HR leaders need investment in their own development more than ever. 

To drive business impact now and in the future, HR leaders must learn how to support the organizational complexities that affect a company’s most important asset, its employees. The future of HR sees the field evolving from an administrative- and compliance-focused role into one where HR leaders and their teams act as true business partners for the organization, providing a much-needed outside-in perspective. 

HR leadership development equips HR leaders and their teams to: 

Ignite leadership growth with cohort-based learning

While great managers are rare, they are the ones who create a culture where employees — and the company — thrive. Whether your organization has returned to an office, leverages a hybrid setup, or continues in a remote environment, the urgency of leadership development can’t wait for things to “go back to normal.” 

Leaders need access to the vital topics discussed here from wherever they work with little interruption to their day-to-schedule. Add virtual peer learning to the mix, and you’ve created a world-class leadership development program that adapts to tomorrow’s business needs today. Explore how you can drive organizational change with cohort-based leadership development programs from Udemy Business and CorpU.

Page Last Updated: September 2021