From the small startup to the multinational conglomerate, all organizations need leaders and more importantly, a team of leaders to be successful. The workforce is looking for someone to follow. Many organizations struggle with the “how” of creating a successful leadership team. Here is some advice for creating a leadership team for an organization regardless of its size.
Leadership just doesn’t happen because you want it to. There needs to be a defined structured program for developing leaders. For smaller businesses, this may include seeking external help for creating and implementing the program. For larger businesses, there may be an entire department devoted to leadership development. Either way, a clearly defined plan is essential to success.
Many times leadership development is focused solely on the “high potentials”. It is also important to include your current leaders in the development process. There may be aspects of the current leadership that may need to be modified to align with the overall corporate vision. By including these leaders in your development program, you can obtain consistent leadership within the organization.
Ask your current and potential leaders for feedback on a regular basis. By taking the pulse of the workforce, you can see where leadership is living up to its name and other areas where it may be lacking. When receiving this feedback, it is important that you keep an open mind and implement change when necessary. If feedback is received and not acted upon, or if feedback is received and the issuer of the feedback is retaliated upon, future feedback will either not be received or be irrelevant.
Many times leaders are chosen for their ability to lead as the business exists today. The economic events of the past few years have illustrated that it is also necessary to lead in the future and during periods of uncertainty and change. By instilling these traits and topics into your leaders today, you’ll have more successful leaders in the future.
The best leadership development program won’t have an impact on your business if your current leaders aren’t following it. Your leaders should show through their words and actions that they are leading with the best interest of the company in the forefront of their mind.
In many organizations, once a person reaches a certain level of leadership, they have a “golden ticket”. There is very little that they could do which would result in them being removed either from their position or from the company as a whole. If this person is a poor leader, they can have a detrimental effect on the workforce. So if someone on your leadership team is not making the grade, don’t be afraid to let them know and if necessary remove them from your team. This will have a positive effect on morale and will show your workforce that regardless of position there is a set of corporate standards that must be followed.
Many times an organization will create a leadership development program, use it for a little while and then stop using it. In other instances, an organization will continue to use an outdated program which is no longer relevant. In either instance, a leadership development program is not something that should be created and then forgotten about. Make sure that you review your program to make sure that it still applies to your business and your workforce.
Good leaders give away more credit than they take. Recognize your team members and their impact to the business. This will show the workforce that leadership is fair and equitable. It can also have a positive effect on morale since the workforce knows they will be recognized for a job well done.
Leaders need to always have their eyes open. They need to be looking for problems before they arise. It is better to be proactive and address a situation before it becomes a problem then to be reactive and allow the issue to impact the business as a whole. Leaders who are only reactive are constantly just “fighting fires” and don’t have the opportunity to lead effectively.
Leaders should always be developing and learning new tools and skills. Yet many leaders claim they either don’t have the time or the desire for additional learning and training. No one can stop change. From the economy to the make-up of the workforce, the corporate environment is constantly changing. Successful leaders are learning skills and methods that will assist them in adapting to those changes.
Leadership isn't a tool or skill that you learn once and then put away for future use. Leadership is a skill that needs regular development and practice in order to stay relevant in the corporate environment. Successful leaders realize this and put leadership into practice daily with their own actions and those of their leadership team. The tips described above will assist you in not only developing leaders in your organization, but in improving your own leadership skills.
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