Any manager should understand that the success of an organization directly depends on training good leaders. Most of the managers realize it (or pretend to realize), but for some reason, the very few pay attention to it.
But, today we will talk about a little bit different issue.
So, how do you nurture a team of leaders? Before answering this question I need to tell you a bit about myself. I’m an HR Manager at Careersbooster.com. I took this position recently. And now I find myself in a rather difficult situation.
For a year, my team “survived” without a clear understanding of where and how to go.
The lack of proper leadership for a long time has affected literally all aspects of my employees’ life. But the biggest problem was not about profit or even the prospect of development. The biggest problem was that the people who took leading roles were completely disoriented and therefore could not lead.
Now, my main task is to raise a team of confident, open-minded, self-motivated, decisive, and persistent leaders.
I need them to be the captains of their projects. So, once again I ask myself, “How do I nurture a team of leaders?” I am sure that many leaders ask themselves this question too, that’s why I’ve decided to tell about a few steps that I’ve taken to achieve this goal.
1.) Choose your team: So, the first step is to look at everyone around you and pick out the people with leadership potential. It is actually a really obvious step. Choose several employees and begin to work with them more closely. Watch them, give them a little more responsibility, and see how they do the job. Just watch and collect the facts. This is a long-term process. It can take you from 1 to 6 months.
Some of your potential leaders will be more focused and unhesitating, while others will act more carefully. I have distinguished ten people from a large number of my employees and built more personal relationships with them.
It helped me learn more about them. I know, not all of them will become good leaders, but I am sure there are at least 4-5 people able to develop leadership skills.
2.) Spend time with them: In my case, I also needed to devote some more time to the ten potential leaders I’ve mentioned above. I know, that some readers may think that it is more reasonable to organize corporate training, workshops, and conferences for all of the employees. But, trust me, that’s not how you nurture leaders. First, you won’t be able to teach such a big group of people.
Second, there is no point of teaching everybody when you know that only 5% of them can apply the knowledge.
What I did was mostly sharing my experience and recommending some books and articles. I took advice from a book cover (literary) and started spending my lunchtime with a new purpose. I would invite my talented ten and tell them some funny (or not so funny) stories from my professional life.
I’ve also scheduled weekly meetings with each of them to discuss current matters and assess their progress.
3.) Give them responsibility: After you have slightly reduced the distance between you and the future leaders it’s time to challenge them. Start with small tasks that will be out of their comfort zone. The challenges may be individual or team. However, they should stimulate critical thinking and decision-making abilities. These challenges will reveal the character of your team members, which is exactly what you need to see.
At the beginning, you will need to help your team members with some guidance and personal attention. But after some time, they will become more independent. And don’t forget to award your potential leaders when they accomplish given tasks. Those who will be the most successful should be included in the decision-making process.
You can also ask for their opinion in front of other leaders.
Personally, I used this stage for delegating some of my responsibilities to my team members. It was a win-win situation. I got a chance to free up some time and even go on vacation and they were able to show their worth.
4.) Create a learning environment: According to the research done by the Middlesex University’s Institute for Work Based Learning, seven out of ten workers think they cannot fulfill their potential due to the lack of training. Moreover, they are willing to look for other job opportunities just because they feel they will get more chances there.
I think that these statistical data properly illustrate the importance of learning both for leaders and their personnel.
Yes, most of the managers are used to thinking that learning activities are necessary for upgrading employees’ skills and that it is their privilege to organize them. However, trainings and seminars do not only help leaders get skillful and knowledgeable personnel but also are part of the system of benefits that keeps that personnel loyal to the company.
When a leader provides you the chance to obtain new knowledge, you start feeling needed, important and valued. These are the feelings that can keep employees in their workplaces even when the company flies into the face of economic danger. These are also the feelings that can keep your top managers from taking seductive proposals offered by your competitors.
5.) Encourage competition: I am truly convinced that success and leadership go hand in hand with competitiveness. I haven’t met a leader who didn’t need to “fight” for his or her place in the sun. That is the reason I always encourage competition among my employees, especially among the potential leaders.
What I do is a very simple trick, which I’d recommend to all managers: I create a Whats App chat (you can use any corporate chat as well) and ask my team members to write a sentence or two about their daily achievements.
This way I can track their progress and they can see the accomplishments of their colleagues. If one of them completes 13 major projects a day (and gets my positive response on his or her work), everyone else will try to reach the same productivity level or even exceed it.
Of course, there are employees that act like they don’t buy it, but the leaders are always eager to compete.
6.) Assess their progress/regress: That’s probably the most pleasant part of nurturing leaders, especially if you need to comment on success. I do the assessment once per 2-3 months but I know that some managers do it once a year.
I use a simple form that consists of 4 points:
- My recommendations
- Employee’s recommendations
The points 1, 2 and 4 are filled in by my team member. As we discuss them at a personal meeting, I comment on each point (I may agree/disagree and give some advice) and write my recommendations. I keep all the forms to evaluate the employee’s progress.
So, these are my 6 strategies for nurturing the team of leaders. I know that my list may not be complete, these are only the first steps that I took. So, if you have some guidelines or recommendations, I will be happy to read them in the comment section.
Author’s Bio: Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR expert from Pittsburgh. She is focusing on helping people break down their limits, find a dream job and achieve career success. Eva maintains a strong interest in bringing the digital revolution into human resources. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Follow Eva on Twitter at @EvaWislow.