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5 Ways to Take the Wind Out of Your Future Leaders' Sails

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I travel around the country every week facilitating leadership development programs. I find that companies of all sizes make significant mistakes when it comes to developing their leaders. If you want to make more money, increase morale and drive productivity, focus on your leadership team. After all, you can’t do it all yourself.


Related: 9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit

Here are five mistakes companies make that lead to less effective leaders and the solutions for each. 

1. Promotion without development

I see many organizations where someone gets promoted because they are technically competent. They are a good salesperson, so then they get promoted to a sales manager. But just because they’re good at selling does not necessarily mean they’re good at leading. The huge error that is made is we assume that they know how to lead. The person who has been promoted will not admit that they don’t know how or worse, they will emulate the person they used to report to who may not be a good leader either.

Solution: When someone gets promoted to a leadership role, make sure they are provided with training and development on how to lead either with an internal training program or using an outside resource. Additionally, it may be a good idea to have a leadership development program inside your company which helps you develop people who will be leaders in the future.

2. Measuring the wrong metrics

When I conduct leadership development programs, I teach the leaders in the program about the importance of coaching and developing each of their employees in order for them to reach their highest potential. Far too often, a hand in the back of the room goes up and they say “yes, Shawn, that is a good idea, but there’s a problem. On our performance reviews the company does not review our leadership capabilities or activities -- all the company reviews is our results”.

Solution: Have leadership activity metrics on the performance review.

3. Lack of ongoing development

There are many organizations that promote someone to a leadership role and give them the initial training in order to be effective. However in many organizations that I work with, they say it’s great that the new leaders get training and development in order to be effective -- but the more veteran leaders do not get training and development whatsoever. Just because someone has been a leader for several years does not mean they don’t need to continue to develop their skills. We want to prepare them to be ready for the next level of leadership.

Solution: Have ongoing development for more senior managers.

Related: 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures

4. Leaders hold back future leaders.

One of the interesting challenges in organizations is leaders who actually prevent their employees from growing and developing. I hear many a story of someone who is interested in a leadership development program, and their managers tell them they can’t go because they are too busy, or they can’t afford them being away from their work for that amount of time.

The harsh reality is that those leaders are actually holding back those employees because they are so talented, they don’t want to lose them to a future promotion. This act of selfishness actually holds back that employee for getting the development that they deserve as is extremely de-motivating.

Solution: Hold leaders accountable for developing and promoting people.

5. No support from the top

If the company is going to invest in developing their leaders and give them the proper training and development that they need, there has to be support from the highest level of the company -- including the founder and the CEO. I have seen many cases where the CEO comes in and introduces a program, and then leaves. I realize that CEOs are very busy people, but to me that sends the wrong message.

I have seen other CEOs who introduce the program and then explain to the group that they are going to attend that day as a participant, because they would like to learn more about leadership as well. This to me is the best way to show true support of leadership development. Another way of showing support is for the CEO to actually facilitate a module leadership skills for class to show their commitment in terms of time and energy.

Solution: CEO’S and their team should show continuous support. 

Please take some time to go back to the checklist and ask yourself honestly -- are you doing all of these things in order to develop leaders who are going to drive sales and revenue opportunities at your company in the future? If you want that, then now is a good time to start putting these actions into play. In order to get results you have to invest in developing the people that are driving them.

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