Looking for the next generation of leaders for your business? Chances are they are already employed somewhere in your company's ranks.
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The challenge is to identify your rising stars and nurture their development before they jump ship and go to work for someone else.
Identifying talented employee is usually the easy part. The hard part is developing a plan to help them hone their skills and become integrated into the fabric of your business. That won't happen by itself. You need to take a proactive role in cultivating your most valuable staff members into tomorrow's key leaders. Here's how to do it . . .
The process of developing young leaders is really a mentorship process in which you play a teaching role in the life of an employee. Whether or not you formalize the mentoring process in written form isn't important. What is important, however, is that both you and your employee understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Involvement in Planning
When you begin to cultivate an employee for a leadership role in the business, it's important to start involving them in planning and strategy conversations. The employee might bring new insights to the conversation, but more importantly they will learn the thought process behind leadership decisions and other things that can't be learned from a textbook or a training seminar. At times, walking someone else through your decision-making process may feel stifling, but in the long run it will pay off when you have a leadership team that thinks the same way you do.
Aspiring leaders need to be challenged in order to learn and grow. By assigning them projects just a little outside their comfort level, you will help build their confidence and create a gauge for assessing their progress. Sometimes they will fail in their efforts, but that's okay. Accept the fact that failure is part of the learning process and move on.
Young leaders need to know what they are talking about in their jobs and everyone else's if they are ever going to gain the respect of the people they lead. The only that will happen is if you give them the opportunity to experience a breadth of roles in the business, periodically exposing them to different departments and procedures. Shuffling their responsibilities from time to time has the added bonus of exposing them to a variety of leadership styles - an important factor in helping them develop a style of leadership that is a good fit for the business.
Offer Training Opportunities
Finally, it's helpful to provide rising stars with training opportunities outside of the company. Training opportunities can be as simple as training seminars or as complex as funding an advanced degree in business. The benefit of outside training will be the same regardless of the form it takes - the employee will grow as a leader and your business will gain an outside perspective.