A business can only be effective with committed leaders at the helm. More of these individuals are needed today, deftly guiding firms through turbulent and uncertain economic periods. Many people will hope these heroic figures will miraculously appear from nowhere and overhaul their prospects overnight. However, leaders are all around us from an early age with untapped abilities. Unlocking the potential that already exists within your own business with recognising leadership talent and traits could be key.
Still, the process is not as straightforward as you might hope it to be. Patience and cunning are required here so that you can select the right internal candidates for each respective role. What other strategies might improve your approach here?
After the jump, you will find a few tips to help you nurture the potential leadership talent in your business.
Know What You Want
Many workplaces reward high performing employees with promotions. While this is standard practice for lower steps on the career ladder, this logic becomes more dangerous when advancing workers to leadership positions.
A quality graphic designer who meets brief specifications and deadlines may not necessarily have the skills required to lead, organise, and inspire a team. Not every skill your workers have will be transferable into the new leadership position, which comes with more responsibility, and likely, politics.
Therefore, you should be exceedingly confident about the types of qualities you’re looking for in a potential leader. Do this long before you begin your search. That way, you won’t be tempted to hire the best performing worker, but rather the professional who will thrive as a leader after some input from yourself.
You must also remember that leaders are made, not born. If you’re searching for somebody who is already exhibiting every quality you’re looking for to exact specifications, you’re going to be disappointed. Measure your expectations, and look for areas where your potential leaders can grow and evolve organically. When you have clearly defined goals, you can then make more informed and helpful decisions in your internal talent search.
Analyse the Culture Fit
Great leaders have impeccable people skills. They’re not the anti-social workaholics that they’re often stereotyped as being.
It has been said that the “era of empathy” is in full effect in workplaces, with effective leaders needing to demonstrate skills in communication and compassion to get the best out of their workforce. Therefore, the most optimum leader in your business may not be the person who merely performs well but who also has a strong, caring rapport with the people around them.
You can nudge the potential leaders you are considering further in this direction. For instance, you could bestow them with responsibilities around planning company social events, encouraging them to liaison with colleagues in a more personable manner. You can also gauge their skills in organisation as they perform these duties and monitor whether you have the same value system.
Of course, you should always be leading by example. You can do this by frequently asking workers questions about their personal well-being and facilitating a culture of openness. Potential leaders should be smart enough to pick up on your approach and emulate it themselves with their workmates.
While having potential leaders under your wing at intermittent periods can be useful, potential leaders must also be able to learn independently. A self-paced online course could be a good way to monitor their aptitude for this.
For example, The London School of Economics and Political Science has excellent online leadership courses that will invigorate your company’s next wave of management staff. From practising inclusive leadership to making decisions during times of rapid change, there is a wide range of content here to stimulate your potential leader’s mind. Each course only demands a commitment of 6-8 hours per week, so there’s no risk of these opportunities detracting from workers’ current responsibilities.
Some workers can have a false idea of what leadership talent entails. They may envision only part of what these types of jobs truly entail. LSE online certificate courses can bring a sense of real perspective to the situation, highlighting how multifaceted and dynamic leaders must be daily. Some of the options available include social entrepreneurship and competitive innovation techniques; each course can shed more light on a leader’s responsibilities and address weaknesses with precision.
Recommend online short courses yourself if your personnel are not currently aware of them. You could also be a student of these teachings yourself, once again setting a favourable impression of how leaders should constantly strive for further growth. After all, true leaders are always bettering themselves rather than assuming they’ve reached the pinnacle of their talents and careers.
Formalise Mentoring Dynamics
Mentoring relationships have a place in business. However, while some of these bonds form casually, it’s best to formally acknowledge these dynamics if you’re nurturing potential leadership talent.
There are many perks to this approach. They include:
- Gauging their attitude: You shouldn’t waste time on mentees who won’t make the most of the opportunity. See if your potential leaders have goals and objectives for what they wish to get out of the arrangement.
- Scheduling time: Both you and your mentee will be more likely to make the time for mentoring when it’s a pre-planned engagement. Proceedings will have more structure and a better-defined purpose.
- Encouraging the mentee: A formal mentoring dynamic informs the mentee that they’re being invested in and are of interest, motivating them to perform better.
- Setting a precedent: Should the day come when the mentee becomes the mentor, they will be able to recreate this working relationship better and have a clear outline to follow.
Mentoring isn’t just a perk of business, either. For SMEs, it’s an essential component of their running, enabling their workforce to advance to the next stage of their careers as the business evolves.
Many employers assume that workers are fortunate to have a chance at leadership within their firms. However, many employees will seek career advancement opportunities elsewhere if there’s no rewarding atmosphere in their workplace.
You must provide your potential leaders with incentives to remain loyal. Unfortunately, employers are often blamed for workers quitting, so doing everything you can to keep them happy and motivated is essential. If you’re uncertain how to proceed, running a company wide survey can help you establish a consensus on where you might improve.
Try to think about the things employees today are looking for. Flexible hours and work from home schemes are increasingly popular requests, granting workers more flexibility in increasingly challenging times. Make an effort to be accommodating where possible, and the best workers in your business will endeavour to remain and progress.
If necessary, try to reframe how you think of good leaders, too. For example, you may believe that the prospective leaders will want more in-person time with you and thus resist the urge to work flexibly or from home. Avoid focusing on who is around the office most frequently. Instead, pay attention to who makes the biggest impact when they are on the premises and if those promising results persist when working from home. After all, adaptability is a highly valuable skill to have.
Education and compassion are the two driving factors that will help you nurture the potential leadership talent in your business, so remain true to those goals and don’t lose faith in your workers.