You lead a team. You have specific goals and are committed to reaching your organization’s full potential.
You know you cannot do it alone. You know you need others who have the same vision, energy and enthusiasm for the mission.
How do you instill in your team the same sense of drive, pride and commitment to the mission at hand that you feel?
You have two choices: Go out and attract new leaders or take existing team members and develop them into leaders.
While bringing in outside leaders and may feel like the obvious (or faster…or only…) choice, it may not be the right decision. There are some challenges with looking outside the organization for leadership: For starters, leaders are hard to find. If you do find a strong leader willing to join your team, there’s no guarantee you will be able to earn their loyalty. Another challenge is that if they do not buy into your vision they can actually damage the culture you have worked hard to build.
I believe the better solution is hiring the best talent available and continuously looking for leadership ability in everyone you attract. I also recommend consistently evaluating whether or not you have the right people in the right jobs.
It is essential to have an intentional strategy for developing leaders in your organization. This supports a grow-your-own mentality, which includes benefits such as protecting your culture, you creating loyalty and cultivating an inspired environment.
One of our highest-level needs is the need to grow and contribute. When people are growing and contributing to a mission bigger than themselves, their energy and inspiration grow as well.
How can you be intentional about developing leaders?
Attract and select great talent. While everyone can learn to lead, there are certain attitudes and traits that make some people more conducive to the growth required to be leaders than others. I look for the following traits:
- Passion or energy for the work. Does the person have a genuine hunger to succeed? Are they willing to fight and overcome challenges and persevere? I have found that if someone can develop a big enough passion they will find a way to be successful. Look for a burning desire.
- Are they willing to work? Is the person willing to do what is necessary, not just easy, to succeed? I look to see if they are willing to get their hands dirty and do what is necessary to help the team succeed.
- Are they teachable? Do they have humility and are they willing to accept coaching? The person who is always right is not normally the best person to invest in for the long haul.
Create clarity. Make sure the potential leader is crystal clear on what success looks like in their role. The more a new leader needs to come to you for validation, the more you will slow their development. A leader thrives in an environment where they can self-manage and diagnose for themselves whether they are on track or off track and make the necessary adjustments. Leaders know what must be done and can anticipate obstacles and plan accordingly.
Accelerate building trust. Trust builds when a person delivers on their commitment. Create a cadence of forecasting work and reporting on what has been accomplished. The shorter the cycles between forecasting and reporting the faster trust is built and the organization will scale and be more flexible.
Implement structure to manage the work. Structure is the combination of meaningful data coupled with cadence and rhythm. A handful of meaningful indicators can free emerging leaders from the quagmire of managing personalities, egos, subjective issues, emotions, and intangibles by teaching them which metrics to focus on and building the habit of acting. Make it easy for the growing leader to identify where they are winning and where they need to help.
The legacy of a successful leader is…new leaders. How are you being intentional about creating new leaders on your team and in your organization? Take the time to invest in the people around you who exhibit leadership potential – the payoffs are tremendous.
For more insight on developing the leaders around you, please download our FREE Leadership Potential Assessment.