Leadership in the corporate world seems like something we should have figured out long ago. However, approximately 35% of companies consider their leadership development practices to be below-average or poor. The increase in millennials in the workforce has shone a light on this issue further. In one survey, 93% of millennials reported leaving a company to obtain a new role.
To some, this trend among millennials might seem inconsequential. However, with one in three members of the workforce being a millennial, there is an increasing need to develop them into high-performing leaders.
Whether you manage a company or want to develop yourself as a leader, you should know about these five research-backed techniques to developing high-performing leaders.
1. Develop A Routine
Established work routines have been linked to high-performing managers. Some examples of work routines might include when a team leader checks email, how they tackle tasks, how they prepare for meetings and how they run those meetings. Executing those routines thoughtfully and well can lead to higher team performance, better track records and more engaged teams.
To start, assess your current routines. You can keep a journal or use a time-tracker app to help you understand where most of your time goes. On average, 50% of leaders spend most of their time helping their team rather than working on their own projects — on which they spend about one hour and 45 minutes. Scrutinize each routine to ensure they’re not actually you hopping from one “urgent” task to the next.
2. Provide A Coach
In my experience as a coach, the idea of coaching is often wrongly used interchangeably with mentoring. While both can prove to be extremely effective in developing strong leaders, they are different in their approach. A mentor will tell you how they achieved success while a coach will look at your strengths and weakness to help you figure out how you can best achieve success. Coaches help managers pinpoint specific areas in which they can improve. Coaching has shown to improve productivity by 70%, self-confidence by 80% and have an overall ROI of 86%.
Turning to an external coach is a great way to get a fresh perspective, especially if you’ve been relying on your peers and boss for feedback. However, fostering a coaching environment within your company can also be highly beneficial. In a survey, 64% of organizations understood that turning leaders into effective coaches was the greatest opportunity to keep top talent in their companies. When a company develops a network of prolific coaches, it can ensure that skill remains in the company. Having leaders who can effectively coach their direct reports to take on leadership positions also helps decrease employee turnover.
3. Create Self-Directed Experiences
It’s one thing to think about particular situations in a leadership classroom or lecture and another to practice those situations in real life. One thing many new managers lack even after leadership training is the experiential component of leadership.
While 76% of companies develop their leaders through formal experiential courses, many leaders find those courses can’t compare to real-time feedback and situational learning they experience when they get back to their teams.
Experiences don’t need to be challenging situations like firing an employee or discussing performance with a difficult employee. They can involve exposure to the company’s different products, teams and management levels. Some companies might opt to send managers to leadership consortiums, immersion labs or externships so they might learn from doing and gain a fresh perspective on an old problem.
4. Give Continuous Evaluation
Many leadership programs fail because they only evaluate managers bi-annually or even less frequently. Leaders, especially new ones or those looking to make a serious change in their leadership skills, need continuous evaluation to improve.
Evaluation should not just come from superiors. Managers have direct reports and likely need to interact with managers from other teams. Gathering meaningful feedback from all relationship stakeholders helps new leaders understand the key areas they need to improve upon.
There is a structured way to go about collecting feedback. Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies out there who do not help leaders evaluate themselves. In one survey, only 19% of respondents said their organizations’ leadership programs regularly collected feedback and data to evaluate their progress in the programs. That’s not nearly enough to help leaders develop.
With a continuous evaluation structure, leaders can effectively determine what kind of leader they want to be and collect the necessary feedback to help them chart their course.
5. Encourage Introspection
Leadership skills aren’t only about delegating tasks the best way to get the highest performance out of your team. They’re also about having the right emotional intelligence to have the best working relationship you can with each team member. This involves high levels of empathy and emotional control.
Many leadership programs fail because they do not involve asking leaders to look internally and evaluate their emotional capabilities. While programs can train many in leadership skills like time management and negotiating, they can’t adjust underlying mindsets without asking leaders to be introspective.
Encouraging leaders to leave some time for introspection can help in a couple of ways. First, it helps leaders become more attuned to their own mental and emotional state. By doing this, leaders can hone their empathy skills, helping them relate better to their employees and colleagues. Second, it can help leaders find a better state of mental health for themselves. As leaders grow to understand their mental workings, they can more easily track when they need a break or to do something restorative. Providing a coach can also help leaders work on their mindset and expand their emotional capabilities.
Utilizing even just one of these tactics can help improve your company’s leadership abilities. The more you develop your company’s leadership capabilities, the more you ensure the prosperity of your company.
This article was originally published in Forbes.