The singular most important role of today’s leader is growing those around them.
This is not just a lofty goal, but one of intentional thought and commitment. I view nurturing those around me as a benefit not only to our organization but also as a way to develop skills that will lead to success in any organization. Gasp! Yes, I believe it is my duty to shape leaders who may someday join a competing organization. So, where to begin?
Leadership development is offered for many reasons. Poor company performance is a natural time to refocus and change it up a bit. Or, in contrast, perhaps the organization is facing high growth and needs to develop leaders and establish consistency for expansion. It is also common for leaders to cultivate collegiality and collaboration. Understanding your why will lead you to develop the right plan for your situation.
Recently, we used the Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman as an optional book study. The goal was to identify staff who were interested in leadership positions within the organization. This allowed us the chance to evaluate potential while also allowing each individual to understand what is important to senior leadership. Note that some staff members may not see themselves as candidates. In this case, it is important to provide encouragement for them to join the activity.
Practical application is a critical component for leadership development. Aspiring leaders want to find meaning in their work…well, we all do–so don’t fake it.
Brainstorm current challenges that the organization is facing and make it a focus for your aspiring leaders. Our monthly staff meetings were becoming too routine; management would share dates and upcoming activities, and rarely did we deal with process improvement or individual growth. A few years back we adopted an alternate model addressing topics of interest that could benefit the entire staff and engaged everyone to sign up to present. For us, this created a collegial atmosphere like we had never seen before. Staff members were partnering together, creating hands-on, creative and interactive sessions that taught important concepts that we all could learn from.
Keep in mind that just because someone desires to be in a management role doesn’t mean that they are the right choice. Well-meaning employees sometimes enter supervisor roles believing that it is easy, only to find out that colleagues who now report to them, rather than work alongside them, act totally different. This isn’t meant to discourage providing growth opportunities to all who show interest. Instead, consider providing a variety of employees the chance to show leadership by focusing on current challenges. This is a good way to determine skills and gauge the effectiveness of leadership potential.
Looking for ways to develop those throughout the organization help keep our organization tightly focused and deeply committed. These learning moments and countless others have served as encouragement and inspiration not only for potential leaders but for me as well.
So, to recap some takeaways for cultivating leaders:
1) Invite staff to participate in a learning session, like a book study to help identify those interested in growing.
2) Encourage those “hidden leaders” in your midst by inviting them to participate in leadership training.
3) Offer prospective leaders the chance to find solutions to current organizational challenges.
4) Re-imagine staff meetings as opportunities for personal learning and growth, inviting all staff to lead sessions of interest.
How are you engaging future leaders in your organization? Share with us so that we all may learn and grow.
For breakfast, I had Honey Bunches of Oats.
This post originally appeared on the Breakfast Club Blog on November 28, 2017.