10 Ways to Grow Leaders in Your Business
A Note From The Editor
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There are many reasons why organizations spend enormous amounts of time and resources on developing leaders. One of the most important examples would be that “Organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.”
If you want your organization to fall into that category, then use the following 10 tips to help develop leaders within your business.
1. Use big data.
As Heather Huhman reminds us in Entrepreneur, “Previously employers have relied on assessments such as IQ tests, skills aptitude tests, and even physical exams to answer questions like ‘Should Sarah be promoted?’ or ‘Is it time to fire Bill?’” Now we have big data to help us locate the right employees for our business and even predict how long they’ll remain at the company.
There are many companies now that use data to determine the best talent. I've used several but the best indicator that I've found is using the enneagram test. I make all new employees take this test. This helps me to better know how to make them a leader. Not everyone can become a leader the same way. Every personality is different and this test will help you better evaluate different types of leaders.
2. Develop leaders early.
Leadership development should take place as soon as possible within your organization by assessing and analyzing the strengths of potential future leaders. While big data can be used, you can also discover which employees have what it takes for certain jobs by letting them identify themselves as potential leaders in leadership positions.
This is a technique used by Fred Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx; "Our Leadership Evaluation and Awareness Program explains the demands of management as well as the personal characteristics and traits needed for successful leadership. I find it interesting that, once they know the demands and requirements, some 70 percent of the participants drop out of the program."
3. Educate and train employees.
Another way to develop future leaders is by constantly providing them with the education and training needed to become a leader. This could be accomplished by having employees attend webinars, conferences or classes to help them refine their leadership skills.
4. Challenge employees.
Give employees a chance to challenge themselves by assigning them unfamiliar tasks. It’s an effective way to push and test their skill levels. As The Wall Street Journal notes, it’s all right if they fail since it “offers valuable lessons that can add new skills, improve confidence, and solidify employee commitment.”
Watch to see if the employee just determines the task is above their skill level or if your employee determines that they will do what it takes to learn the new skill.
5. Let them interact with current leaders.
Companies like Southwest Airlines have found an effective way to give employees first-hand experience in a leadership role is for them to shadow current leaders. While speaking to Businessweek, Elizabeth Bryant, senior director of talent management at Southwest Airlines, stated "It goes beyond formal training and is part of everyday life at Southwest, where employees at every level are exposed to leaders so they get to see how the leaders think."
Bryant added "Even informal mentoring and exposure to company executives helps to broaden people's perspectives and stimulate their passion about the job."
6. Teach them to network.
Networking is vital for everyone in a leadership position. Take for example how operational, personal and strategic networking was examined by Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter. The professors discovered that effective managers were able to locate the individuals within their organization who can help them complete a task or project.
Encourage employees to improve their networking skills through training or by having them communicate with co-workers they don't know well.
7. Rotate employee positions.
For many innovative companies, employee rotation has become a great way to engage, motivate and work with different team members. Furthermore, by not locking employees into a single position, it’s developing additional skills in each employee that could be used if they have to fill-in for another team member.
Susan Heathfield, a human resources consultant, informed Charles Coy on the Cornerstone Blog that employee rotation is helpful because, "It helps employees spread their wings and extend their boundaries."
8. Provide support for employees.
While you want to challenge employees and encourage them to get out of their comfort zones, you also need to make sure that you give them the proper support whenever assigning new tasks. This can be done by encouraging them yourself, directing them to someone who can help, providing them with the right support and frequently evaluating their work.
9. Inspire employees to be passionate.
Some of the the best leaders that I've ever met inspire others to become leaders by their passion. Employees will take a little bit of that passion and it will grow within them. Develop passion in your employees and they will become the biggest factors in the success of your business.
By letting employees be creative, encouraging them to work on side projects and sending out employee surveys, you will have found a couple of ways to discover which employees are authentic and have bought into your company’s culture. Keep in mind, you don't have time for everything.
10. Give them a little power.
It’s important to give employees the right tools and resources to succeed. But, you don’t always have to hold their hand. Furthermore, you may have to give up a little control by giving them the power to make certain decisions.
According to Avery Augustine of The Muse, “I learned this firsthand when I was put in charge of a client event while my boss was out of town and completely out of touch. With no one else to lean on, I was forced to make decisions on my own, no matter how unsure I was. Eventually, I became more and more confident in making decisions solo (even if it took a couple slip-ups -- a.k.a. “learning experiences” -- to solidify that skill.)”