In order to become an effective leader, you must have been an effective worker from on set. Being an effective leader doesn’t just spring up over night, it is something you build.
Business leaders who want to build the best possible leadership team can’t rely on impressive résumés or past experience. They always need to identify and develop the company’s most promising leaders now and in the future.
When seeking new managers and leaders for a company, promoting from within may prove more effective than hiring an external candidate.
Elevating someone who already works for you means that individual will need less time to get up to speed. Also, leveraging a company’s growth into professional growth for it’s team members can only make employees feel more optimistic about their path at that organization.
When you’re the one in charge, everybody will look to you to make tough decisions and the consequences for those decisions fall squarely on your shoulders.
In small companies, you’re probably the one doing most of the work on important, time-sensitive projects. Finding ways to be as productive as possible is crucial. Although, that’s easier said than done.
Getting yourself into a productive mindset that yields results takes training.
1. Take initiative
Taking initiative is crucial to leading. Reward employees who come to you with solutions for problems, who step up when a project needs to be done and who seek out opportunities for professional growth. “You can’t force participation or improvement on employees who aren’t dedicated to it,” notes Krister Ungerböck, speaker, author and CEO coach. “When an employee doesn’t volunteer for more educational or professional opportunities, that should tell you how well suited he or she is for a management role.”
You’ll also want to invest in people who invest in themselves outside of work. Harvard Business Review has reported that about one-third of the most successful CEOs in the world have MBAs, so aiding your team’s educational efforts can only help your efforts to grow leaders from within.
Look for employees who are investing in their long-term future — whether by getting an MBA, earning a professional certification or pursuing another educational opportunity – and assist them however you can. Offering tuition assistance, flexible scheduling around class schedules and time off for professional development workshops could go a long way.
2. Show humility
If someone is humble about her work, she’ll always be open to suggestions for improvement. That lifelong learner mentality is crucial for leaders. “Humbleness comes with selflessness,” says Saahil Goel, CEO and founder of Kraftly. “Once you accept the equality between your team and yourself, it helps in creating a healthy learning environment in the company.”
And there’s another reason leaders should practice humility. According to psychologist Sherrie Campbell, people aren’t as eager to follow a leader who’s perceived as perfect. When leaders make themselves vulnerable, it helps others feel accepted by and connected to them. That, in turn, encourages followers to become more open to trusting and learning from leaders.
You can foster humility in your nascent leaders by helping them gain greater self-awareness of both their strengths (via Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment, for example) andtheir weaknesses. When you frame discussions about improving weaknesses as an opportunity for growth, these become positive conversations rather than negative ones.
3. Can speak well — and listen better
Think back to your last meeting. Was there a team member who argued persuasively for a particular course of action? Another who managed to convey next steps in a thorough but concise way? Being an effective communicator is key to being an effective leader. Leaders prepare what they’re going to say in advance, yet they’re comfortable speaking extemporaneously — the ability to think on one’s feet is an important leadership quality.
And leaders know that perhaps the biggest secret to communication is to be an active listener. “It’s more important to listen than it is to talk most of the time,” argues speaker and performance strategist Matt Mayberry. “How else can you learn about what needs to be done to improve a situation?” Fortunately, there are myriad exercises that can be used to boost your employees’ active listening skills.
You could divide team members into small groups and have them work through the story line exercise, for example. In that activity, someone begins a story, then the person next to him summarizes the first few lines and adds to the story. Active listeners should be able to paraphrase what they’ve just heard, and such exercises can help would-be leaders hone that vital skill.
In a business environment that grows more complex every day, having a team of leaders can only benefit your business. When you see the above qualities in your employees, you’ve likely identified the new leaders who can move your business forward today and act on opportunities that will deliver results tomorrow.