When should you start thinking about identifying and fostering management potential in employees? Hint: It’s way before you need to name a replacement for a departing manager.
Identifying and grooming successful future leaders is a marathon—not a sprint—and your organization will thank itself down the line for employing enduring training techniques that help prepare individuals before they step into any important new role.
After all, taking over a workload that involves a leadership component is more complex than just being able to keep day-to-day operations afloat. A gifted manager will take a role and make it their own, and should be able to forge relationships with others to positively impact the company. Recognizing leadership potential early and employing key strategies to help it grow are crucial steps in any sustainable long-term personnel plan.
Here’s how you can get started leading your leaders now:
Identify and Nurture Promise
It’s important to first decide your benchmark for pinpointing leadership potential. Some employees enjoy completing a given workload and following orders, while some may reveal a glimmer of higher aspirations, or a habit of going above and beyond. Entrepreneur and Huffington Post contributor Neal Jenson suggests looking out for these qualities:
Performance: Output and excellence that you’d want from every employee
Vision: Someone who doesn’t need to be spoon-fed answers to questions
Intelligence: Individuals who have already made a positive impact with their ingenuity
Charisma: Confidence, purpose, and the power of persuasion
Good Judgment: Ability to transcend the instruction manual and use creative license
Well-Connected: Talent for reading people and the ability to connect with coworkers
Service and Sacrifice: Genuine concern for the well-being of the company and others
Help Them Build a Network
Once you’ve singled out employees who have the raw potential to make great managers, the most important thing you can do is gradually develop their skills set over time. Experts at The Muse, via Forbes, cite developing networking skills as the first helpful measure to take.
Encourage leaders-in-training to attend company events and talk to coworkers outside their familiar ring. This gives them the people skills and the contacts they’ll need when it’s time to take on the title of manager.
Test Decision-Making Skills
When you’re leading future leaders, you should think outside the normal slideshow routine. Go dynamic, and bring real-time, hypothetical training and feedback right to the eyes of future leaders. The decision modeling feature from Poll Everywhere is a training activity that allows for the simulation of real-life decisions based on various scenarios one may encounter.
Participants can use mobile or online devices to vote in real-time, and the consequences of decisions can lead to a productive discussion about how to handle various circumstances. Since the results are tangible and immediate, it’s an impactful way to help prepare future team leads to make calm, informed decisions before they take the helm.
There’s no substitute for tried-and-true techniques that come with years of experience. The Wall Street Journal advises creating a mentoring program that pairs newbies with senior staff members and sets a regular meeting schedule. The partners can discuss more general topics at first, and dive into specifics as they get to know each other better.
By working with a partner, future leaders can benefit from the wisdom that comes with longevity, and senior leaders can have an active hand in shaping the future of the company.
When training future leaders, it pays to think like a leader. A PowerPoint about the theory of being a leader will likely fall flat, but using the above strategies could establish a lasting training regimen that produces well-prepared management ready for whatever challenges the nature of the prestigious position throws at them.
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