I haven’t yet heard a business owner, executive, or manager who hasn’t expressed a need to have stronger leaders in their organization. Everyone wants more and better leaders. Unfortunately, some employees don’t view themselves as leaders and neglect to grow their leadership capacity. What these employees may not realize is that their DNA rubs off on others as their colleagues observe them, have conversations, and work alongside them.
Although I believe everyone is a leader, I admit that the ability to influence may be easier for some. From my experience, these perceived “natural leaders” already possess a high degree of certain personal traits they build upon to grow in their leadership strengths. Yet, even these emerging leaders need the partnership with more experienced leaders to help them grow their leadership brand.
Organizations that emphasize leadership development for all their employees will foster stronger employee engagement. I propose that part of an organization’s intentional mission should be to identify and raise up the next generation of leaders. Some business leaders may ask, “What’s the best way to start investing in our emerging leaders?” Growing leaders can be broken down into a few simple steps:
- Make the decision that you will invest your time and resources in growing new leaders. Leadership demands intentionality, which means you will take on this assignment as part of your job description.
- Identify potential leaders that have some level of the characteristics you believe will make for great leadership within your organization. Bill Hybels (2009) mentions five key qualities that he looks for in potential leaders: (1) influence, (2) character, (3) people skills, (4) initiative, and (5) intelligence. You may select all five or modify; however, you should be clear on the criteria by which you will base your selection.
- Invest in potential leaders through coaching, mentoring, training, and wise counsel. Storytelling is a powerful way to learn, so share your stories of successes and challenges and what you learned. Be aware that just listening to leadership stories does not grow leadership; therefore, it is important to have them put to use what they know.
- Create opportunities for potential leaders to practice leadership. You need to trust they will become stronger leaders by figuring out leadership through their own trials. Leaders grow by moving from theoretical to practical experiences through a series of more challenging assignments.
Management typically justifies leadership coaching for an identified few, because the investment payback can be roughly calculated. With relatively high turnover rates at lower levels in the organization, management does not want to invest in these employees only to have the competition realize the benefits. Decisions in leadership investment can be a difficult decision, but I can make the argument that if companies invested more broadly in leadership development, they would keep their best employees and also have the competitors’ employees want to join.
Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs. She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all their employees. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.