9 Leadership Topics that Will Engage Your Managers in 2020

by Mike O'Neill

Leadership training is essential to your managers and the continued success of your company.

74% of employees believe they aren’t achieving their full potential at work because their skills aren‘t being properly developed.

Maintaining the engagement of your managers during leadership training is crucial if you want them to retain what they learn and apply it to the job.

The best way to keep them engaged is to update your training program frequently with new topics that keep them informed on current trends.

Here are 9 leadership topics you should include in your leadership training to keep it relevant and increase engagement.

Don’t have time to read this article right now? Click here to be taken to the summary at the bottom of this page.

Topic #1: Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

Managing a multi-generational workforce is challenging and presents a unique set of problems.

The first step to effectively manage the multi-generational workforce is to understand people’s work style, motivation, and what technologies they use each day.

While trends and research suggest each generation does have unique characteristics, not everyone within a given generation is the same. A difference in age does not necessarily lead to a substantial difference in work style, so it’s essential to avoid the stereotype trap.

While different generations of employees may share similar work styles and career ambitions, for instance, CompTIA’s 2018 research report highlights growing concerns of a technological generation gap. The ever-changing impact of technology on the way we do business can create tension and cause conflicts to arise.

Older generations learned to do business without the help of advanced computer software and are often skeptical and can be slow to accept new technologies.

Younger generations have grown up with technology and are typically more comfortable utilizing it to make their jobs and lives simpler.

Managers are interested in how they can harness the unique perspectives and skill sets each generation brings to the table

You need to discuss specific challenges managers will face and include helpful tips in your training program concerning how to deal with those challenges preemptively.

Some tips you can include are:

  • Avoid Labels: don’t use terms such as “Boomer” or “Millenials” and discourage your staff from using them as well.
  • Find Commonalities: help your employees find things that they have in common to help them bond closer as a team.
  • Create Mentoring Opportunities: older generations have plenty of valuable wisdom to share. Create a mentoring program and pair up seasoned managers who have been with the company for a long time with younger managers who are just starting.
  • Treat Everyone the Same: evaluate all your employees on the same scale and not based on their age or the generational label.

Recommended Reading: 5 Changes to Improve Your Leadership Training Programs

Topic #2: Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is always one of the most popular topics for managers.

Conflicts in the workplace are stressful for everyone. Not only for the people involved but for the people who work closely with them as well. Managers need to learn the best tips and tactics to resolve conflict quickly and constructively.

Are there any new conflict resolution strategies or techniques that your managers need to know that may be missing in your training program?

If you already include conflict resolution in your training program, you should keep it updated to provide your managers and employees with the most current information available.

Some useful tips you can include are:

  • Focus on the behavior and events that created the conflict and what you can do to find a solution.
  • Actively listen to your employees and hone in on the facts. Your employees need to feel like their opinion matters, and that you value their input. Get all the pertinent information and Ignore the “he said, she said,” and finger-pointing.
  • Include those involved in creating a plan to solve the problem.
  • Give feedback. Let the employees involved know what you expect from them.
  • Reassure your employees when they make a mistake and help them learn how to prevent it from happening again in the future.
  • Follow up periodically to be sure that the solution is effective and conflict has been resolved.

Topic #3: Personality Assessments

Personality assessments are an invaluable tool that teach your employees how to communicate and work with people that have different personalities and perspectives.

It’s crucial to teach your managers to use these assessments properly to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team so they can help them be more effective at their job.

Employees should never feel like they are judged or treated differently based on the results of the assessment.

One of the most popular personality assessments used for training and leadership development is the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment.

This assessment generates a personality type based on four measurements:

  • Extroversion vs. Introversion (E or I); how the person interacts with others.
  • Sensing vs. Intuition (S or N); how the person accesses information.
  • Thinking vs. Feeling (T or F); how the person makes decisions.
  • Judging or Perceiving (J or P); the person’s way of looking at the world around them.

The combination of a person’s tendencies on each of the measurements above produces one of 16 possible four-letter types. For instance, someone who is introverted, intuitive, thinking, and Judging would be “INTJ”.

There are many places online to take a simple MBTI test. A website like 16personalities can help employers get an overview of an employee’s personality and some general guidance on their tendencies in the workplace.

16personalities.com provides an assessment that incorporates the best parts of the MBTI assessment without the Jungian concepts that it, and similar assessments, incorporate.

Their model revolves around the “Big Five” personality traits that dominate modern psychological and social research.

16personalities.com makes their assessment fun by providing storybook representations of the different personality types, and they make it relatable by including a list of famous people or characters that share your personality type.

Each personality type includes information on their strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career paths, and workplace habits.

Teach your managers about the different personality assessments available and instruct them on which one(s) you would like them to use.

Make sure they understand the benefits of personality assessments and how to leverage the results to manage their team more effectively.

Recommended Reading: Leadership Workshops: The Last Guide You Will Ever Need

Topic #4: Time Management Tips

Every leadership training program should include time management tips as one of the topics to teach.

Time management plays such a vital role in the ability of your managers to assign, delegate, and complete tasks without becoming overwhelmed and falling behind schedule.

It’s important to establish a pace that employees can realistically maintain without rushing to complete their tasks or taking too long.

Rushing causes work quality to suffer and can lead to your employees feeling stressed or overworked. Taking too long to complete tasks can lead to customer dissatisfaction or an uneven distribution of work among your team.

Implementing better time management tactics increases the efficiency and productivity of your manager and their employees.

Some time management tips you can include in your training program are:

  • Prioritize Tasks: Assign tasks in the order they need to be completed and give them reasonable deadlines.
  • Communicate Goals and Expectations Clearly: Don’t leave room for assumptions. Your employees should never have to guess what they need to do, how it needs to get done, or when it should be completed.
  • Get Organized: Messy desks and clutter are not conducive to productivity. If you have to spend 30 minutes searching for that little sheet of paper you wrote notes on to get started, you’ve just wasted 30 minutes you could have put toward your work.
  • Limit Nonproductive Tasks: This is any task that hinders the completion of a more relevant assignment.

Topic #5: Active Listening

Active listening is one of the most critical skills that every manager should possess. You need to include training for this skill in every leadership training program.

Most people have a particularly bad habit of listening only to reply. What this means is that they listen to just enough of what you say to form a response without actually taking the time to analyze and interpret it.

You can spot a passive listener pretty quickly if they are distracted by their cell phone, computer, papers on their desk, or other activities while you’re talking.

Active listeners give the person talking their complete, undivided attention. They observe the speaker’s body language and look them in the eyes.

Rephrasing what the speaker said and asking for clarification on things they didn’t quite understand shows that they are listening to what the speaker has to say and that their thoughts and opinions are valuable.

Never interrupt the person talking and pause to give them plenty of opportunities to add more to the conversation.

Leaders who listen (or learn to listen) without judgment, ask probing questions to understand, don't interrupt, paraphrase what was heard, and are truly present are often viewed as excellent bosses.

Mike O'Neill, Bench Builders

Include these tips in your leadership training program and encourage your managers to use them with every interaction they have with their employees.

Recommended Reading: 11 Leadership Activities That Will Boost Team Productivity

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65% of employees said they wanted more feedback from their managers, and 98% of employees will disengage if they don’t get it.

Feedback is one of the most essential forms of communication that managers should be providing to their team, so make sure your managers are doing it.

Topic #7: Building Trust

Every leadership training program needs to include training that teaches trust-building.

Building trust isn’t something that just happens. It’s a skill your managers can learn and develop, and it’s the most critical ingredient for a successful leadership relationship.

Being a trustworthy leader shows that you are dependable and deserve the confidence of your employer and your team.

It means that you support your employees even when they make mistakes and that you take their needs and feelings into consideration.

The most effective way to build trust among your team is to make sure your actions align with your words. You can do this through these actions:

  • Be honest with your team and support them when they need it.
  • Listen to their input and offer encouragement when necessary.
  • Be consistent in everything you do.
  • Be a role model and practice what you preach. Display the behavior that you want to see.
  • Hold yourself and your employees accountable.
  • Be transparent in your motives and your expectations.
  • Motivate and inspire your employees. Don’t just tell them what to do.
  • Don’t play favorites. Make a conscious effort to interact with every member of your team and connect with them on a social level through shared interests.
  • Do your job to the best of your ability to show your team you are competent.

Recommended Reading: Organizational Leadership: 5 Essentials That You Should Know

Topic #8: Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment than an employee has to your company or organization, and it’s a recent buzzword that’s been receiving a lot of attention.

The more committed your employees are, the more they engage, which in turn increases the quality of their work and their productivity.

As mentioned above, trust plays a significant factor in how employees respond to their managers.

If employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to be fully engaged.

Mike O'Neill, Bench Builders

Engaged employees are more optimistic, team-oriented, solution-oriented, and selfless. They have a passion for learning and a tendency to go above and beyond in their work.

They are quick to pass along credit and accept blame when they make a mistake.

Disengaged employees are more pessimistic, self-centered, and egocentric. They have a negative attitude and focus on monetary worth instead of continued learning. They are quick to accept credit for a job well done, but they don’t take criticism well and will often pass the blame to others.

Managers can increase employee engagement in the following ways:

  • Establish a good relationship with employees and earn their trust.
  • Provide clear expectations for their behavior and the tasks you expect them to complete.
  • Give employees honest feedback with instructions on how to improve and recognition for what they do well.
  • Lead by example and instill confidence by showing they are capable and competent at their job.

Topic #9: Coaching

Managers need to learn about the importance of coaching their employees. Coaching should not be limited to executives and managers.

Employees in 2020 respond much better to leaders who come alongside their team members with a coaching style of leadership. - Mike O'Neill, Bench Builders

Mike O'Neill, Bench Builders

To be an effective coach, you need to have empathy for your employees and learn to be patient with them.

Teach your team to be practical problem solvers by sharing your thought process and giving them step by step instructions.

Only offering advice or giving them the answer without showing them how you got it doesn’t promote self-reliance. As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The most effective coaching focuses on problem-solving, goal setting, and improving employee performance. Spend some one-on-one time with employees and help them come up with personal goals that benefit them and the company. Then hold them accountable, cheer them on, and help ensure they complete their goals.

Improving problem-solving skills and achieving goals increases employee performance and productivity. Include coaching in your leadership training and encourage managers to implement it to reap the benefits.

Quick Summary

Do you want to create a leadership training program with topics to really engage your managers? Include these 9 leadership topics in your training to increase engagement from your managers.

  1. Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce: Discuss the challenges managers face with a workforce of multiple generations working together.
  2. Conflict Resolution: Provide tips and tactics for resolving conflict quickly and efficiently.
  3. Personality Assessments: Teach your managers the benefits of conducting personality assessments and learning to manage employees with different thought processes and perspectives.
  4. Time Management Tips: Offer tips managers can use to help manage their time better and complete projects on time.
  5. Active Listening: Emphasize the importance of active listening skills when communicating with employees.
  6. Communication: Teach your managers how to communicate more effectively with their team.
  7. Building Trust: Give your managers tips on how they can build trust with their team.
  8. Employee Engagement: Explain what employee engagement means and how to spot a disengaged employee.
  9. Employee Coaching: Teach your managers the value of coaching their employees and tips on how to do it effectively.

Developing an engaging leadership training program is challenging. There is a lot of information you need to include, and you have to ensure that your training tools are varied and interactive.

Mike O’Neill and Rhonda Beard have been helping companies just like yours create customized leadership development training programs for years.

Let us help make sure you include all the crucial information your managers need to learn in their training. Rhonda and Mike have created an informative guide just for you.

Download your free copy of this guide here: The Tactical Field Guide to Managing Humans.

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People is about making sure that you have the right people in the right positions in your company, and that you have a plan for how to retain and train your top talent.


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