What Is Leadership Development & Why Is It Important?

October 16, 2020

Most successful businesses - if not all successful businesses - consist of talented staff and excellent leaders. Employees who work together to build and sell fantastic products through motivation and hard work. But even the best leaders aren’t necessarily born that way - like any other skill, it has to be learned and honed. And that’s where leadership development comes in.

What is leadership development?

Leadership development is the process of motivating and managing your staff to take on and perform well in leadership or management roles. It’s important to remember that all managers should be leaders, but not all leaders need to be managers. Many of the best leaders are role models who serve at a non-management level, and act as team champions who inspire and motivate their colleagues. Leadership development is all about cultivating these skills - expanding your team’s capabilities, aligning their mindset and encouraging high performance, with the objective of achieving your company’s goals.

Why is leadership development important?

Leadership development benefits both staff and employees. Businesses who invest in leadership development programmes are likely to see lower staff turnover, higher morale and increased revenue than those who don’t. That should be enough to up the training budget right there. But there are also loads of benefits of leadership development for staff - they’ll feel more rewarded, motivated, and loyal to your company.

Developing individual leaders

Not everyone’s a natural born leader - and that’s OK. But even the best leaders started somewhere - so how can you support your staff to reach their leadership potential? Here are some models of individual leadership training that have been posited in the past.

Leadership Pipeline

The Leadership Pipeline focuses on highlighting leadership competencies that can be achieved at each role in a company - from junior positions to senior management. As staff progress through the company, they’re able to work towards progressively more challenging leadership skills. This method helps staff prove what they’ve achieved, enabling career progression and internal recruitment (which is typically much cheaper than recruiting externally).

Personal Leadership Plans

Personal Leadership Plans are usually created based on an individual’s current skills, expertise, and goals. This personalised approach is very effective at working on individual leadership development, but it takes a long time to create and implement Personal Leadership Plans for every employee - especially when there’s so much to get done in a day!

Leadership Development Programmes

Leadership Development Programmes are accredited qualifications that are designed to prove an employee has what it takes to take on a management role. They focus on teaching broad leadership skills, and how they can be applied in various scenarios. A frequently cited problem with many Leadership Development Programmes is the one-size-fits-all approach. Often, these programmes are taught outside the workplace context, so there’s no real-world experience attached to these qualifications. At Circl, we aim to offer a Leadership Development Programme with a difference - real experience.

Developing leadership at a collective level

Individual leadership development is one thing, but collective leadership is where your business can start seeing big benefits. Collective leadership is all about having a shared goal that’s backed by all your business leaders. This is a chance for your staff to take responsibility for parts of a project that will have a serious impact on revenue and reputation - so it’s important that they can develop the skills they need to take on this kind of leadership. This kind of leadership is great for cultivating a culture of openness, self-motivation and shared accountability.

Developing leadership in the workplace

Developing leadership skills in this way is more holistic and organic than traditional leadership courses, which tend to focus on theory and one-size-fits-all approaches. Collective workplace leadership development allows established skippers at your company to lead by example, and potential leaders to learn from real-world situations. It’s a great way to build confidence and enhance teamwork. Developing leadership skills on-the-job is also ideal for helping staff learn what works best for your business - so you can reap the rewards of their learning.

Developing youth leadership

Like learning a language or musical instrument, developing leadership skills can be more effective if it’s started at a younger age. At Circl, we offer leadership development courses that involve working with young adults to help them start their leadership journey, too. Our work wit young people gives them the opportunity to connect with leaders in businesses - so they can develop their skills early, helping to create a new generation of leaders.

And while this is fantastic for youth development, this approach benefits businesses, too. 83% of customers report that they’d be more loyal to a company that supports social issues, and three quarters of millennials say they’d take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. That means happier staff, happier customers - and the chance to grow the skillset of a new generation of employees. It’s a great way to futureproof your business.

Developing diversity in leadership

There are a whole host of reasons why diversity is great for businesses - from increased profitability to more creativity to better problem solving. And encouraging diversity in the leadership of your organisation is no exception. With just 1.5% of private sector management roles being held by BAME people and systematic gender gaps in the workplace, it’s incredibly important that companies do what they can to bolster diversity in leadership. With an inclusive leadership development programme in place, it’s easy to commit to embracing and encouraging leadership diversity at your company.


Leadership development at all these different levels can be a challenge for companies - but it’s definitely a challenge worth taking on. With countless business benefits, investing in leadership development is something that companies of all sizes should consider. There are many different leadership and management courses out there - but ours offers something a little bit different.

While many leadership courses teach individuals the basics of management, ours gives your staff the opportunity to apply their skills in real-life settings. And while they’re learning on-the-job, they’re also helping advance social mobility in your local area - so your company can give back to your community. Give your staff the confidence and motivation they need to take on new responsibilities and act as role models in your company - all while increasing revenue, lowering staff turnover, and improving your company culture. Find out more about the Circl Leadership Development Programme.