Business Leadership Today

How To Demonstrate Leadership Development (7 Tips)


Matt Tenney, Author of Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process

Regardless of your current role or career stage, it’s never too early to embark on a leadership journey.

The first step to becoming an effective leader is becoming a conscientious employee. This involves being reliable, detail-oriented, committed to the vision, and invested in the team. Going above and beyond for co-workers and customers and continually seeking growth and improvement in your role can demonstrate a level of dedication that sets future leaders apart.

Effective leadership transcends titles. It’s about cultivating influence, building genuine connections that foster trust, and proving that you’re ready to lead a dedicated team to success.

Whether you’re already a leader or aspire to be one, there are ample opportunities to develop and demonstrate leadership behaviors at work and showcase your potential.

To demonstrate leadership development, you should:

  1. Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement
  2. Regularly exchange feedback
  3. Be open to new challenges
  4. Lead by example
  5. Show adaptability
  6. Hold yourself accountable
  7. Build trusting relationships

In this article, we delve into how to demonstrate leadership development at work and how anyone, irrespective of their position, can display their leadership skills.

1. Dedicate Yourself To Continuous Improvement

As John Maxwell aptly puts it, “Leadership is about growth—for yourself, your relationships, your productivity, and your people. To lead well, you must embrace your need for continual improvement…” Leaders must be committed to growth, not just for their teams, but for themselves as well.

The journey to leadership excellence involves more than encouraging team growth and development; leaders must also be in a constant state of self-improvement to better serve their teams. Adopting an improvement mindset is key. It aids in identifying inefficiencies, addressing them promptly, and viewing mistakes as opportunities for learning.

Cultivating an improvement mindset not only sharpens leadership skills but also inspires team members to continually develop their own skills. By modeling this principle, leaders can foster a culture of continuous improvement. 

Leaders should embrace openness to new ideas and experiences. To embody this openness, it’s essential to actively pursue learning opportunities, whether through formal education, workshops, or self-study. Regular reflection on actions and decisions, with a focus on areas for improvement, is also crucial.

2. Regularly Exchange Feedback

To grow as a leader and enhance your skills, it’s crucial to give and receive feedback regularly.

Good feedback is feedback that is constructive, compassionate, specific, focused, timely, and presented in a positive tone. When executed properly, it offers a practical and solution-focused framework that steers others toward the desired conduct.

For feedback to truly make a difference, whether it’s a critique or commendation of an employee’s work, it should be directly linked to a broader objective and provide a clear path forward, rather than being vague.

Regular feedback from leaders can be highly beneficial for employees. Likewise, leaders can gain valuable insights from feedback provided by their team. Cultivating a feedback-oriented culture within your organization can lead to increased employee contentment, a mindset of continual improvement, and enhanced productivity.

3. Be Open to New Challenges

Leaders can show their development by being open to new ideas and taking on new responsibilities and challenges. This could be leading a new project, taking on a difficult task, or stepping into a new role.

Such experiences not only provide opportunities for personal growth but also allow leaders to showcase their adaptability and resilience. It’s through these experiences that leaders can apply the feedback they’ve received and exhibit their enhanced skills and competencies. 

Moreover, by stepping out of their comfort zones, leaders can inspire their team members to do the same, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. This proactive approach to leadership development contributes to the overall success and progress of the team and the organization as a whole.

4. Lead by Example

Leaders should model the behaviors and attitudes they want to see in their team. This includes demonstrating integrity, resilience, and a positive attitude.

Integrity: Integrity is about being honest, transparent, and ethical in all actions and decisions. Leaders with integrity build trust within their teams, fostering an environment where honesty and fairness are valued.

Resilience: Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep going in the face of adversity. Leaders who demonstrate resilience show their teams that it’s okay to make mistakes and face challenges, as these are opportunities for learning and growth.

Positive Attitude: Maintaining a positive attitude is also essential. Leaders who remain positive, even in difficult situations, can inspire their teams to do the same. A positive attitude can help foster a more collaborative and productive work environment.

By demonstrating integrity, resilience, and a positive attitude, conscientious employees showcase their leadership potential and, in the process, help to create a supportive and inclusive team culture that encourages each member to reach their full potential. 

Remember, as a leader, your actions speak louder than words. Your team will look to you as a role model, so it’s important to lead by example. This not only helps to shape the culture of your team but also contributes to the overall success of your organization.

5. Show Adaptability

Given the inevitability of change, leaders must be adaptable and must be able to build teams that are adaptable so that they can successfully navigate change. Demonstrating adaptability is a powerful way to showcase leadership growth. 

Adaptable leaders are characterized by their flexibility, creativity, and proficiency in problem-solving. They effectively navigate changing circumstances, helping their team members adjust and sustain high performance, even in environments where change is the norm.

Such leaders are capable of learning from their mistakes and possess a mindset geared towards improvement, fostering an atmosphere of innovation. They strive to maintain a stable work environment to ensure their employees feel psychologically safe and confident in what they do. 

These leaders can successfully guide their team members through periods of transition, reducing their apprehension about the future and fostering a more positive attitude toward tackling challenges. This approach not only enhances the team’s resilience but also contributes to the overall success of the organization.

6. Hold Yourself Accountable

Being a good leader involves being a good team player and taking ownership. Effective leaders don’t blame their team for failures or take all the credit for successes—and neither do conscientious employees, so this is a leadership skill any employee can start working on their first day on the job.

According to a Partners In Leadership Workplace Accountability Study, 85% of the professionals surveyed weren’t clear on their company’s expected results. The study also revealed that 93% of respondents weren’t able to align their work with expected results or take accountability for them. Furthermore, most respondents identified leaders’ behavior as the primary factor affecting responsibility in their organizations.

Leaders are accountable for guiding their teams towards achieving goals. If goals aren’t met, leaders can help their teams adjust and take responsibility by owning their role in setting and achieving goals and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities.

Effective leaders don’t penalize employees for not meeting expectations. Instead, they ensure clarity in job expectations, goals, and the employee’s role in achieving those goals. They don’t just react when teams don’t meet expectations; they consistently acknowledge employees’ contributions when they do meet the expected results and help all team members invest in and take ownership of their unique contributions. 

7. Building Trusting Relationships

Employees aiming for leadership roles should exhibit trust, as it is crucial for building strong team relationships, enhancing communication, and increasing productivity. It also aids in leadership development by encouraging risk-taking and innovation. 

Trust is a cornerstone for any team. It enables leaders to build connections with their employees and encourages employees to form strong bonds with their peers. It is a critical component of effective leadership, and employees who demonstrate it are more likely to be recognized as potential leaders within their organizations. 

Leaders (or conscientious employees looking to become leaders) should strive to forge strong, trusting relationships with their team members, colleagues, and superiors. This involves active listening, demonstrating empathy, and providing support.

The degree of trust an employee places in their leader influences their performance, productivity, and the organization’s profitability. A deficit of trust can result in a toxic work environment, leading to employee attrition, so effective leaders prioritize building and maintaining trust to ensure a positive and productive work environment.

From Conscientious Employee to Conscientious Leader

Remember, you don’t need to be the boss to be an effective leader, and leadership development is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing effort and commitment.

But with dedication and the right mindset, anyone can become a great leader. It starts with being a conscientious employee who demonstrates their commitment to the vision through continuous growth, skill development, and forging authentic connections with team members. 

Matt Tenney has been working to help organizations develop leaders who improve employee engagement and performance since 2012. He is the author of three leadership books, including the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed book Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process.

Matt’s ideas have been featured in major media outlets and his clients include numerous national associations and Fortune 500 companies.

He is often invited to deliver keynote speeches at conferences and leadership meetings, and is known for delivering valuable, actionable insights in a way that is memorable and deeply inspiring.

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