We’ve all had people we’ve hired or managed that we can tell are born to be leaders and we want to invest in. As a boss, you want to help develop these people so that they can grow as leaders in your organization and eventually move on to lead future employees and create a vibrant, growing company culture full of employees that lead well.
Here are 6 foolproof steps you can take to help develop your staff into great leaders.
1. Allow room to make mistakes and grow.
Provide small, temporary opportunities for your employees to step up to the plate and lead in situations. As they are growing in their leadership abilities they need opportunities to take charge and step up to the plate. This could be as simple as leading a portion of the staff meeting to start. And as they prove that they are ready to handle more, give them more opportunities.
They may make mistakes, but use these as teachable moments. Your employee will appreciate the opportunity to lead and will learn from the experience. They may even prove to you that they have a solution to the mistake they made. In fact, here is a story to share about an employee making a mistake and learning from it and making the most out of it.
This employee meant to order 50 boxes of a low carb baking mix. He accidentally ordered 50 cases and no returns were accepted! This product sold decently well in the store, but not well enough to justify 50 cases! Not only was this a costly order, he knew that it would be nearly impossible to sell 50 cases without them expiring. So what did he do? He got creative. This store just so happened to offer diet coaching so he recruited the diet coaches to help get their dieters using this mix as a substitute for regular pancake mix. He ran huge sales on it (without losing money). Pretty soon word got around about how great this product was and all of a sudden there were new customers in the store buying this product and others as well. In the end, only 3 cases expired but they made more than enough money to recover their losses.
This is just one of many examples. At the end of the day, leaders want opportunities to lead and want grace to make mistakes and correct them. By allowing your employees those opportunities, they will learn how valuable that attribute is and learn to do that themselves.
2. Be approachable.
A good leader is approachable and by being approachable you will allow for your employees to take initiative and be willing to contribute ideas. You should be a person that your staff can go to with their ideas and suggestions. Even if you don’t like their ideas, by being a supportive, approachable person they will feel heard and understood even if their ideas aren’t implemented.
As stated above, if you’re approachable and allow your staff to try things and learn from their experiences, it will further establish you as a trusted person in the eyes of your employees. When situations arise, even difficult ones, you will have established a relationship of trust with your staff which helps them step up even more.
If you’ve established yourself as an approachable boss you can handle conflict better because your employees know that you’re someone who listens well and they can talk to. Even if things don’t go their way all the time, you’ve established a relationship of trust which is most important.
3. Offer consistent and constructive feedback.
There’s always room for growth. By offering consistent and constructive feedback to your employees you can both encourage them in what they’re doing well and offer them areas to improve in. Be very specific in your feedback.
If you’re wanting your employee to be more prompt in meeting deadlines and they’re struggling with that, ask questions of them such as, “I’d love to see you be more prompt with meeting deadlines. What steps do you think you can take to make the most of your time to ensure you get your work done on time? Is there anything I can do to help you make these changes?”
If they are given the opportunity to lead a project, do a debrief with them after the project is finished and let them process the experience with you. Check in with them and see how they’re doing with their progress in making improvements.
Yearly reviews are essential for these types of conversations but most employees need more spot checks throughout the year to make sure they’re doing okay.
4. Create a positive work environment.
We wrote a blog on this topic alone because it’s so important. Leaders thrive in positive workplaces. If you have a toxic work environment it stifles leadership and employee morale. In the modern workforce, a positive culture at work is one of the things employees look for the most. It’s hard to lead disgruntled employees, let alone foster leadership among them. Get your workplace culture heading in a positive direction to motivate your future leaders to want to step up more.
5. Encourage Teamwork.
No business succeeds on the shoulders of one leader. You have to have a team around you to help carry the load. That’s why fostering leadership among your staff is so important. The team you have could make or break your business so it’s important to stress the importance of teamwork. Have your leaders encourage working as a team. Build a community of trust and have your staff cross-trained to know how to help each other out if they need to.
6. Acknowledge success.
There’s nothing more discouraging for an employee than to feel like they did a fantastic job and get no recognition for it. Lack of recognition is a surefire way to make employees feel discouraged and unappreciated. A simple compliment can make a world of difference to your employees. Monetary incentives are nice as well, but frequent verbal encouragement and praise is a free and effective way to motivate your staff and leaders to keep up the good work. Also, don’t be afraid to offer praise on both a team and individual effort. The saying teamwork makes the dream work is very true but it’s okay to single out employees and thank them personally for their efforts as well.
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