It's hard to over state the importance of leadership development. While the interest in leadership goes back to the dawn of man, the intentional study of leadership goes back to the late 1880's. And, even though leadership theories have evolved over the last 125 years, several things have been discovered (observed) about the benefits of solid leadership and the development of leadership within individuals.
The benefits to business and organizations has been well documented. John Maxwell has said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." And while that statement is a little simplistic, it's still true. Large corporations, mid-size businesses, small businesses, and non-profit organizations of all sizes have consistently shown to produce better results when they have strong leadership not only at the top of the organization, but all through the organization. A Google search of "worst CEO's" will quickly give you plenty of examples of companies who hired poor leaders and paid the price.
But leadership isn't just about large corporations, and it's not just for those at the top of the organization. Let's start with smaller companies. Many entrepreneurs have a great idea or see a market need. They have the business sense to start a company and fill that need. Their company begins to grow, but then what happens? Unless they have a high degree of leadership skills their company will plateau, lose out to competitors who may not have been first to see the need, but can beat out the first company in the market; or have serious internal problems with staff - infighting, burnout, and/or turnover to name a few. The company will never outgrow its leader. The company may start out well, but without solid leadership, it won't have much of a future.
Even employees should be focused on personal leadership development. Many company owners say they don't want to invest in leadership development for employees because, "My employees will just take what I teach them and leave." Maybe. Henry Ford once said, "The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay." Not developing your employees may be one of the most expensive things you never do.
There are many reasons to invest in leadership development for your employees. Here are a few:
Investing in your employees shows you care about them. This is critical for any business because many employees will stay just for that reason.
It increases their confidence. Confident employees create confident customers.
Leadership development increases EQ. The higher the EQ in an organization, the better the ability to handle conflict productively and work as a team.
It increases your leadership bench. When your business grows, you will have the team you need without having to "go outside."
Honestly, the list goes on, but every company should be investing in leadership development for all of their people up and down the ladder. Successful companies do, and it's one of the main reason they are, and continue to be, successful.