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How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace

Leadership is an essential skill for any organization and can make a huge difference in the success of a company. However, leadership skills don’t always come naturally. It takes time and effort from both employers and employees to develop them. The good news is, with the right leadership development, anyone can learn how to become a leader.

In this article, we will discuss how to develop leadership skills in the workplace. We will review different ways to identify the areas of strength and weaknesses of employees and departments, as well as tips on how to inspire employees to keep learning and growing as leaders. By following these steps, your employees can become effective leaders in your organization.

1. Develop Job Skills and Soft Skills

When building a leadership development program, most organizations focus on building core leadership skills and even skills related to the specific job functions of the participants. However, developing programs for participants’ soft skills is just as critical. Soft skills help leaders:

  • Become better managers
  • Act more confidently during difficult conversations with direct reports and teams
  • Build confidence in their ability to lead and eliminate imposter syndrome

Soft skills are often omitted from leadership training because there’s an assumption that experienced employees already have those skills but it’s worth the time and investment to ensure your leaders' soft skills match their job skills.

2. Make Learning Easy to Digest

This may seem obvious, but leadership training and development programs do require some formal learning. While some of the learning happens in the field, making the classroom/online class portions easy to digest often makes the content:

  • More memorable
  • Applicable to situations that employee is dealing with in their day-to-day activities
  • Most likely for trainees to actually find time to do the formal learning portions

It’s important to remember that most leadership development programs may be required but are done in concert with an employee’s ongoing job responsibilities. Making formal learning easy to accomplish will allow the program to compliment participants’ work rather than retract from it.

3. Integrate Coaching from Proven Leaders

Often the most enticing portion of any leadership program is learning from the pros. Ensure your leadership training program includes ongoing, real life coaching from proven leaders in your organization. This doesn’t need to rise to the level of formal mentorship, but it should be a prominent part of your program. This unique coaching opportunity allows:

  • Participants to network within the organization and build their profile with established leaders
  • Allow leaders with a proven track record to share their best practices- some that could be specific to the organization
  • Participants to build resources as they begin their leadership journey

Coaching is key to reinforce any kind of learning. In a leadership training program, it allows participants to network while they reinforce their new knowledge.

4. Use Gift Cards to Reward Rising Stars

There’s an obvious reward to all leadership development. The participants leave with new skills, and often insights and resources you can’t glean from a college class. However, these participants are signing up for additional professional commitments and for those that rise to the top of the class, rewards are compelling. Regarding rising stars within your program:

  • Motivates the award winners, and those who watch the winners get awarded
  • Prevents complacency within the training class
  • Allows the company to thank participants for their deep commitment to the organization

Providing rewards, even within a group of top performers can be memorable and a welcome way for the organization to show appreciation for participants. With Engage2Reward’s new GO Cards, you can provide a flexible, yet targeted gift for your participants. Whether you choose, GO Eat, GO Enjoy or GO Shop these cards curate a unique experience for your program participants.

5. Allow Leaders to Develop Together

Leadership training programs should be really collaborative and lean heavily on peer work. Leadership development is best done in a cohort model building a safe space for peer feedback and honest reflection. Setting up a peer networking space:

  • Allows program participants to bond and build strong relationships with each other
  • Creates a space for each individual to bring their own experience and help troubleshoot other participants’ challenges
  • Makes a program scalable and creates a pipeline of future leadership coaches

Leadership development doesn’t happen to individuals or in a silo. Leaders are brought up through the ranks together and when given the opportunity, they make each other better.


Leadership training programs are individual to each organization, however there are common threads that allow participants to develop their leadership skills and to create a foundation they will take with them throughout their career. Ensure your leadership training program is tuned for success by incorporating the components we’ve discussed.

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