There are leaders and managers in every workplace. Some managers are leaders, which is great. Unfortunately some other managers aren’t leaders. Every workplace can reap the benefits of cultivating more leaders: leaders boost team morale, inspire innovation and shape culture. Fostering leadership within your team celebrates future leaders where they are now.
Empowering new leaders in your growing teams helps you with project and team management. Here are 7 steps to grow your next generation of leaders that will take you and your business safely into the future.
Watch your team and work with them regularly on their projects. Take time to see how they’re working together to tackle difficult tasks, how they take initiative on these projects and how they work when solo. Look for the qualities you’d like to be represented in your team and throughout your business.
If there are candidates that you think would make good leaders within your business, it’s important to start the conversation with them and see what they want for their professional future. Start these conversations sooner rather than later to help them on their career journey at your organisation and to assist them progress faster. A great way for this to take place is during a regularly scheduled meeting where you can ask what their aspirations are within the business. Encourage them to think about their future and ensure them that you’re willing to help them achieve their goals, this could involve succession planning or direction goals.
Progress happens when you plan for it. You will only ever be as successful as you prepare yourself to be, and this starts with setting goals. Set goals with your team that are SMART, and will further them both inside of your organisation and also help them develop professionally. Make sure you include goals that are large and long term that will probably need a lot of growth for them to be able to achieve them, this could include long term strategy projects.
An important part of goal setting is including training. Your people aren’t skilled in everything yet, and building expertise takes time. Invest in your people and provide them with external opportunities to grow in their industry but also develop leadership skills.
Be sure to flag training opportunities that are available with them, and recommend courses that you may have completed and found useful. Follow up with their training where possible, and be sure to log their feedback for others who may be interested in it. Just because your training budget is on hold, this doesn’t mean the end of training opportunities. There are plenty of free online resources that can be found, check out industry podcasts blogs as a starting point.
Setting goals and encouraging training is only half of the journey, these steps are only useful if you follow up and track success. Sometimes goal due dates will need to be adjusted and training will be postponed. Catch up with your team members regularly so that you can see how they’re progressing and understand when they’re not.
If your future leader has lapsed on a few key points, it might be worth discussing why this has happened and work with them to overcome any barriers they may be hitting. It’s important to keep the conversations going and taking initiative in tracking progress and sentiment around the goals.
Good feedback usually highlights what the receiver is doing well, where they can improve and uncovers any blockers. When it comes to future leaders, teaching them to give/receive feedback is critical; it’s a central part of leadership. A good leader will need to understand how to process and integrate positive and negative feedback into their work to improve themselves professionally and generally as a person. Just as you track training and goals, it’s important to also record your feedback and be constructive with it.
Being on the lookout for leaders and growing potential is always important, but it’s vital to remember that you should always lead by example. Be an exemplar of the traits you wish to see in your team, and recognise that learning is continual and you should endeavour to improve upon your leadership skills whenever possible.
Another great way that you can link future leaders to your business is through creating a mentor relationship. Connect members of your team with business leaders that can provide advice and guidance to your team members on their leadership journey. This connection will also help them understand how to navigate different areas of your organisation, better positioning them to become leaders within your business in the future.
Use these steps to foster leadership in your team to create a future for your organisation. There is no perfect recipe for creating successful leaders, but these steps and communicating regularly with your people is sure to put them on the right track.