How to Develop Leaders
Developing leaders isn't an easy task. However, it's rewarding work, and it will benefit your team and company in the long run. Encourage your employees to gain a wide range of experience to help them learn different skills and how to get along with people. It's also important to help them learn leadership skills, like communication and trustworthiness. After helping your employees grow, make sure you're promoting the right people by picking the best person for the position you're filling.
Giving Employees a Wide Range of Experience
Cross-train your employees to help them develop different skills.Cross-training just means training your employees to more than 1 job in your company. That could mean sending them to different departments or merely rotating them through different jobs in your area. Along the way, they'll pick up a variety of skills which can help them be a leader.
- For instance, if you have an employee working in inventory, see if they'd like to learn about invoicing.
- This process teaches them to be adaptable and requires that they learn about all aspects of your company. Both of those qualities will make them better leaders.
- In addition, they'll need to learn to get along with a wide range of people across your company.
Assign projects that will stretch your employees and help them grow.These projects should be just outside your employees' current skill levels, requiring that they push themselves to succeed at a more demanding task. Projects like these will help them realize they have the ability to tackle complicated and daunting projects on their own and that they may even be able to help others do it, too.
- For instance, if you've been training your employee to create reports and you've been doing them together, have them write one on their own.
- Be ready to offer support when they need it. While you want them to grow, you don't want to meltdown because of a project that's too hard. Check in often to make sure they're doing okay.
- They'll also grow their knowledge and experience level, both of which are valuable as a leader.
Encourage your employees to find what they're passionate about.Passion should be a driving force in your work place. When your employees are passionate, they'll want to give you 110%, and passion is a great leadership quality. A single person who is passionate about a project can spur enthusiasm in others.
- For example, if your employee comes to you with an idea about a new way to approach their work, let them try it out to see how it works.
- Don't be afraid to let your employees take risks and explore different aspects of their jobs. Giving them some room to grow can help them develop a passion for the job.
Working on Communication Skills
Require frequent face-to-face meetings with your employees.Some employees will be better at communication than others, and these types of meetings will help develop communication skills in those who excel and in those who need some work. Ask them to check in with you about ongoing projects or to offer short overviews of what they're working on.
- Aim for meetings at least once a week, as frequent practice will help improve your employees' communication skills.
Train your employees in networking.Take your employees along to networking events, and encourage them to meet people and connect with others in the field. You can even set up events within your company so employees can get to know one another better and develop networking skills in a more sheltered environment.
- Model good networking behavior by introducing employees to people you know and helping to get the conversation started.
- Throwing them into networking situations will help them learn how to navigate social situations at work, keep up contacts, and work on mutually beneficial relationships in the business world.
Encourage employees to lead meetings and give presentations.As a leader, you have likely already learned these skills, but your developing leaders need to learn them, too. Start by modeling the behavior you'd like to see by inviting them to presentations and meetings you lead, then encourage employees to take over future meetings and presentations.
- Practicing these skills will help your employees develop them over time.
- You can tap employees you'd think would do well or ask for volunteers.
Developing Other Leadership Skills
Value truth-telling to develop trustworthiness.Expect the truth from your employees at all times, but more importantly, don't punish them for telling the truth. If they come to you with a mistake, help them solve it instead of berating them for making it in the first place.
- For instance, you could say, "Thank you for coming to me with that mistake. I appreciate your honesty. Let's figure out how to fix it for the moment, and then we can come up with a solution to help you not make the same mistake going forward."
- Leaders need to be trustworthy to get people to follow them. Plus, it takes integrity to be trustworthy, and integrity is also valuable as a leader.
Give employees a voice in the company to help them take ownership.Encourage employees to offer input and suggestions, and give them serious consideration. When you implement an employee's idea, you're sending the message that you value their opinion and that they have a stake in the company.
- For example, if you're considering changing up certain processes in your office, ask for employee input about how they could work better.
- As employees gain a feeling of ownership in the company, they'll be more willing to take on leadership roles.
Model unassuming, unpretentious behavior.The best leaders are approachable, and arrogant people are less approachable. Modeling these behaviors for your employees will help them realize how valuable these skills are.
- Try to come out from behind your desk when employees come in to talk. Sit in chairs together so you can talk without a desk between you.
- Do things like stand in line in the cafeteria and eat with other employees.
- If a potential leader is exhibiting haughty behavior, try having a private conversation about it with them. You could say, "You know, I have as many degrees as you do to go behind my name, but I don't flaunt them. You don't have to say you're smart in every conversation. People will realize it by the great thoughts coming from that brain of yours, and they'll respect you more if they learn that themselves."
Become the mentor or coach your employees need.Most employees with the potential to become leaders will need some gentle guidance in the right direction. Try spending one-on-one time with those employees you think could do well. Ask them how their work is going and how you can help them develop the skills they need to do it better and advance in the company.
- If they're struggling, particularly with a new leadership role, give them advice on how they can manage the situation. Your experience will prove invaluable.
- You could also offer titles of any books that may have helped you in the past.
- Try implementing a program where other senior employees mentor younger employees in a more formalized fashion.
Promoting People to Leadership
Move people up who show leadership skills not just technical ability.Just because a person is good at their current job does not mean they will make a good leader. You have to focus on the values and skills you expect in a leader, not only what skills make them a good employee.
- For instance, if someone is great at creating detailed reports and is very reliable, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be a great leader. However, someone who makes detailed reports, shows integrity in their work, always shows up on time, and works well with others likely will make a good leader.
Keep your eyes open for leaders throughout the company.Some companies won't promote a person to a leadership position if they haven't been there long enough or if they haven't reached a certain level. However, you could be missing out on some great people who are ready to take leadership positions despite the fact they haven't been with the company "long enough."
- Similarly, if you limit your pool, you may find the people you have to promote don't fit the role.
Provide ongoing feedback about potential growth opportunities.People are not always able to recognize where they're doing well and where they could stand to grow. Ensure you're providing that feedback, so you can encourage them to grow the skills they need to be great leaders.
- You can make it a more formalized process by providing regular employee reviews. Think of it as an opportunity to help employees learn rather than to punish employees who are doing poorly.
Avoid pushing people into leadership who can't handle it.Even if you've been grooming someone to be a leader, they may not be able to deal with the pressure. If you realize that someone isn't going to like the stress of the job, don't shove it on them. Doing so won't benefit them or the company.
Video: 4 Tips to Improve Leadership Skills | Brian Tracy
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