As the job market remains competitive and top talent hard to find, organisations are finding it more challenging to fill leadership positions with suitable candidates. Instead of looking to external sources, many employers are investing in developing their current employees’ leadership skills. Developing leaders from within has many benefits, such as cost savings on recruiting and retaining top talent, as well as increased motivation and productivity from within your existing workforce. Here are the three most important leadership qualities that employers should look to cultivate in their employees if they want to promote leaders from within.


Effective communication is the foundation of successful leadership. To develop communication skills in employees, organisations can:

  • Provide communication training – Offer training programs that focus on improving communication skills. These programs can include workshops, seminars, and online courses.
  • Encourage active listening – Encourage employees to actively listen to their colleagues and to ask clarifying questions. This practice can improve communication and prevent misunderstandings. Some practical ways to improve active listening skills are to minimise distractions (close those emails if you will get distracted by the notifications), do a scan of your body language and assess whether it is showing you are open and interested, and ask clarifying questions to ensure you are understanding the whole message.
  • Use feedback – Regularly provide feedback to employees on their communication style. This feedback can be given through performance reviews or in real-time during meetings or presentations.


Adaptability is a critical leadership quality that enables leaders to respond effectively to new situations and challenges. To develop adaptability in employees, organisations can:

  • Offer training and development opportunities – Provide employees with opportunities to learn new skills and gain exposure to different work environments. This can include cross-functional training, job shadowing, and attending industry events and conferences.
  • Encourage experimentation – Encourage employees to experiment with new ideas and approaches to problem-solving. This can foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. In order to develop a culture where employees feel free to experiment, organisations need to develop psychological safety. Teams should be encouraged to freely share ideas and learn from failures, rather than be punished for them.
  • Provide coaching – Provide coaching and mentoring to employees to help them develop their critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. Effective coaching can help employees to consider other options they may not have initially considered.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions and the emotions of others. Research has shown that employees with high levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to be effective leaders, have better job performance and job satisfaction, and are more likely to be promoted to leadership positions.

To develop emotional intelligence in employees, organisations can:

  • Provide training – Provide employees with training on emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management.
  • Encourage self-reflection – Encourage employees to reflect on their emotions and how they impact their behaviour and relationships with others.
  • Foster a supportive workplace culture – Foster a culture of psychological safety, where employees feel comfortable expressing their emotions and seeking support from colleagues and managers.

Key to increasing skills in each of the areas above is an effective training program, that not only delivers skills-based training, but is also tailored to the needs of the individual. An example of such a training program in practice can be seen in Starbucks’ leadership development program. The program aims to develop employees’ communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills, preparing them for leadership roles within the organisation. The program includes training on emotional intelligence, adaptability, and communication, among other leadership qualities.

As a result of its investment in leadership development, Starbucks has seen improvements in employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and business performance. A study by Harvard Business Review found that Starbucks employees who participated in the leadership development program reported higher levels of job satisfaction, better communication with colleagues, and improved problem-solving abilities. These employees were also more likely to be promoted to leadership positions within the organisation.

In conclusion, organisations can develop their current employees’ leadership skills by focusing on developing their communication, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. By providing training, coaching, and development opportunities, employers can create a pipeline of effective leaders and build a strong culture of leadership within their organisation.

If you are interested in our broad range of workplace training and workshops or wish to discuss tailored leadership training, our team is equipped to assist. Call our Workplace Relations team today on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).