“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on Leadership Development.” – John C. Maxwell
A company’s success rests on its leadership –leaders who value their employees and promote developing employees to step into future leadership roles. In other words, wise leaders open the door to future leaders. They provide support and growth opportunities, shepherding the professional development of key employees.
Making It Happen
Set an example: Developing leaders begins with being one. Be honest, exhibiting integrity and ethical behavior. Cultivate the traits underlying wise leadership –
- Servant leadership: Guiding and teaching with firm direction, motivating your team by personally engaging in the process but not micromanaging.
- Be open to change: there is no need to “reinvent the wheel.” However, there are continually new ways to make it run smoother and more efficiently.
- Taking responsibility: Even the best of leaders makes mistakes. The key is acknowledging, owning, and learning from those mistakes.
- Self-awareness: Having a healthy self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and how your words and actions relate to others.
- Self-development: Keep pursuing ways to learn and grow.
Know your employees: Treating your employees as people who matter, extending peer-to-peer respect is foundational.
- Recognize each employee’s personalities, bents, and unique talents: Discover their intrinsic value. Your employees are more than strengths and abilities. They are a unique blend of personality, temperament, and philosophies. So first, get to know them and encourage them to build on those traits. Then, help them discover how those strengths, gifts, and uniqueness can move them forward personally and as an asset to the company.
- Give them tasks that require stretching: Challenge can inspire growth. So, assign the task. Then, provide the appropriate tools and encouragement. Finally, let them run with it. Treat mistakes as an opportunity for growth.
- Support growth and development: Provide incentives for learning, attending webinars, etc. Offer in-house classes. Provide financial assistance to continued education. Give them a reason to stay and grow by promoting from within.
Create a culture for leadership development: Cultivate an environment that both nurtures and fertilizes your future leader seedlings.
- Communicate: Build a two-way street. Ensure that you communicate all pertinent info. Encourage feedback. Listen – it enables you to gain a clearer understanding of each employee.
- Build trust: Be your employees’ best support, encouraging and rewarding initiative, helping them learn from ideas that fell flat. Employees who trust their leaders, and know the culture encourages innovation, are more apt to grow, develop, and become tomorrow’s leaders.
- Establish mentoring relationships: Often, the best way to learn and grow is to walk alongside a wiser, more knowledgeable employee who shares specific, concrete guidelines and the abstract nuances that encourage professional growth.
More than 75% of organizations are facing leadership gaps. Don’t wait until someone is ready to retire to “find” the next leader. Instead, invest in the development of future leaders today. Not every employee is destined for leadership, but taking the time to develop your employees will not only reveal those who can move forward into leadership but also help every employee blossom where they fit best.