Discover the Leaders Within
An essential, ongoing component of an organization’s growth strategy must be the identifying of leaders among current employees. It’s non-negotiable.
Sure, you can “hire in” folks to fill leadership positions, but keep your eyes and ears tuned to those inside your organization first. That’s where you’ll find the guys and gals already well-versed in the processes, systems, organizational structure, and work culture – all the components that make up your unique company. And what’s more, they’re already aware of the organization’s strengths – and, more importantly, the weaknesses – all of which puts them miles ahead of someone just walking through the door.
As your gaze scans the room at the monthly staff meeting, look for leadership potential through the eyes of these key observations:
Level of Engagement
When an individual is fully invested in a company’s mission, purpose, and goals, everyone knows it. Such commitment is impossible to hide. There is nothing half-hearted about this person’s interest in or dedication to the company. This level of “all in” is a must-have characteristic for a successful leader.
Remarkable Communication Skills
“Look for a person who can explain ideas in a clear and concise manner; somebody who deals with specifics and who knows how to listen,” says Andrew Cravenho.
Leaders must have exceptional communication skills across the board – oral, written, one-on-one, as well as in group settings. They must fully grasp the principle behind having one mouth and two ears. Honestly, communication skills may well be the most critical skill a leader possesses.
Those in leadership aren’t afforded the luxury of focusing on only one anything at a time. So, look for folks who can, without extraordinary effort, keep several boats afloat while also:
- Staying at the top of their game
- Achieving the end goal
- Maintaining their sanity
After you’ve pegged up and coming leaders, it’s time to develop their leadership abilities.
Finding a mentor for each potential leader is an exceptional way to begin training. Some mentor-mentee relationships will spring up organically while others will need to be paired up. Either way, it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and years of experience from your current leadership team, to grow the next generation of leaders. Seasoned employees who are also leaders are uniquely positioned to mentor due to the very leadership qualities they possess, the qualities that your company has depended on for years.
Cross-training is another tool for developing strong leaders. Again, those in leadership cannot afford the luxury of being “in the know” about only one department. So, begin with an area that most interests your leadership candidates, and immerse them in that area. Then move them around, so they get a broader feel for the company. Is their leadership potential stimulated? OR have their natural abilities dimmed?
Next, give them a “stretch” assignment, fully explaining the responsibility/tasks and ensuring everyone is on the same page, etc. In fact, throw them in at the deep end, if you will, but keep close tabs on how they swim. Expect a minimal amount of floundering. In the end, do they rise to the top, still smiling, or did they sink like a rock?
As the leader-in-training development progress, establishing an avenue of feedback between you and these up-and-coming leaders is critical. “Hey, how’s it going?” conversations, as you pass in the cafeteria or lobby, don’t do the trick. Rather regular, planned sit-downs that dig below the surface and require the sharing of honest feedback from both sides of the table.
Then the time will come to turn ‘em loose. Not loose as in out the door. Loose as in empowered to lead.
Choose a project, an exclusive assignment, a group presentation, a newly-formed team or committee – something tangible and specific that this leader-in-training gets to own. Explain that he/she will be calling the shots. Don’t stand over his/her shoulder. Don’t micro-manage. Let it be known this baby belongs to ____________.
These intentional steps will develop the natural leadership abilities of your employees, setting you and company up for success in the years ahead.
As a leader in staffing for the precision manufacturing field, MPS Technical has been connecting the best of the workforce with the best companies in Minnesota and Wisconsin for more than twenty years. Give us a call today to see how can we assist you in achieving your company goals.