Five ways to develop your leaders on a limited budget

There’s no denying it can be a challenge to be a small business in today’s market. Dealing with increased competition, skills shortages and digital disruption requires a greater level of leadership skills.

While figuring out how to get the most from our people is always high on the agenda, leadership development is often pushed down the priority list of areas to invest in, leaving only a limited budget to create extraordinary results.

Even for those who would like to put more funds towards leadership development, the reality often is, budgets don’t always stretch as far as we’d like them to.

The good news is it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive endeavour. There are things you can do that will help maximise the investment you make towards developing the leadership skills of your people.

1. Align leadership development with your organisational goals

Leadership development starts with reviewing the performance and capabilities of your team and recognising the areas and skills that need to be developed or strengthened in order for the business to achieve its objectives.

It seems obvious, but the truth is many organisations don’t have a link between business needs and leadership development needs. When your leadership development is aligned with your organisational goals and business strategy it will have a greater impact on the business. For instance, if employee retention is an issue you may want to think about upskilling your managers on how to manage for employee engagement.

2. Focus on the critical competencies/areas

If you have done the work to pinpoint the leadership areas that could be further developed, don’t try to tackle everything all at once. Instead, focus on the critical areas that will have the biggest impact on your business. For example, if you have plans to grow your team then consider investing in developing the interviewing and hiring skills of your managers so you have a better chance of hiring the best people.

3. Utilise what you have

If you already have experienced leaders in your team, use their existing knowledge and expertise to help develop the emerging leaders through mentoring and more formal structured coaching. The by-product of this scenario is often improved employee engagement as it promotes collaboration, deeper inter-office relationships and a sense of purpose.

4. Make it tailored

There are hundreds of leadership programs out there you can spend your money on. When choosing a leadership development program opt for one that can be tailored to your organisation, its goals and people. The more specific to your needs the better. While the costs might be higher upfront, you will get more return on your investment.

5. Get good HR support

As a small business, chances are you can’t afford a full-time HR manager. Getting outside HR support can help you maximise the budget you have and ensure that leadership development is undertaken strategically and effectively.

Dayna Edwards, Director, PeopleStart

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