Every company has them: leaders and followers. Both are needed to accomplish the business’s goals, to drive the company’s mission and purpose. While a person’s innate skills and abilities, and personality traits often determine which camp an individual settles into, employers can play a pivotal role in developing the skills of those in both camps.
Next week we will dive into helping followers be the best they can be. But first, let’s tackle the leadership category. How can employers help to strengthen and develop the leadership aptitude among their employees?
- Don’t give them all the answers
As the manager, department head, or CEO, it’s expected that people will come to you with problems, concerns, and situations. And it may be in your nature to immediately offer a solution to those problems, concerns, and situations. But rather than spell out the detailed resolution, consider this an opportunity to sharpen the employees’ leadership aptitude by prodding them to figure out a solution. Act as a sounding board rather than a problem solver. Offer feedback and, if necessary, point them in a general direction, but resist the urge to save the day immediately. By all means, be supportive and encouraging, not dismissive or indifferent, but purposefully step back and allow your employees to exercise their critical thinking skills.
2. Encourage responsibility and independent thinking
Purposely choose to be the opposite of the constant peeking-over-the-shoulder, micro-managing approach that robs employees of motivation and engagement. Such a management style also ensures that the company will never experience its employees’ full range of capabilities. By giving your employees room to “practice” in making decisions and taking the initiative, you will develop people who excel in making decisions and taking the initiative. It increases self-confidence and paves the way for excellent engagement and personal growth in the future.
3. Delegate authority
Some of you are thinking, “Assignments are one thing, but authority is altogether different.” Truer words were never spoken. Delegating authority is in a category of its own. Giving someone the power to act says you trust them to get the job done and do it well. Not everyone in your company who possesses leadership skills is ready for this next step, but chances are, at least one person is prepared to take on more responsibility. And if we are completely honest, what member of management doesn’t fantasize about handing off at least a small area of responsibility?
4. Create a mentorship program
We toss around the phrase “born leader,” but in reality, most people have a knack for leadership that would grow and blossom to its full potential with the assistance of some intentional development. Mentorship is one of the most effective ways to facilitate learning and develop leaders. One could liken it to the way plants will grow with the proper water, fertilizer, and sunshine. Likewise, employees with an aptitude for leadership will “grow” to their full potential if allowed the opportunity to observe, assist, and learn from an experienced leader.
5. Create a professional development plan
The best of intentions—let’s scout out those with leadership potential—and the most promising of ideas—then we will train them to fill future vacancies—when left to chance, are unlikely to accomplish much of anything. But a detailed plan that includes a step-by-step outline complete with a fine-tuned who-will-oversee-what list and a plan for evaluation along the way will accomplish the goal of nurturing the leadership potential in your employees.
A strong business needs strong talent, and that is where A.R. Mazzotta can help. As one of the top staffing agencies in Connecticut, we can find the talent you’re seeking. Connect with a team member at one of our four locations today! Call 860-347-1626.