Out of all the areas a business can invest in, which is the biggest? Is it processes? That’s vital, of course: getting everyone following optimized routines can be very impactful. Or perhaps it’s equipment: having a robust and effective infrastructure can really speed things up. Well, the correct answer is neither of those. It’s recruitment.
Your employees share the bulk of the responsibility for the success or failure of your business. Hire the right people, treat them well, and you’ll reap the rewards: you’ll see better productivity, great enthusiasm, and all-important brand loyalty. But sometimes you’re required to cultivate unproven talent, shaping people into consummate professionals.
A key part of this is developing leadership skills. Employees who can take charge (whatever that means to them) are more effective in your employ, more confident with their work in general, and far better at supporting their coworkers, contributing to an environment that helps people fulfil their potential. So how can you get those leadership skills in place? Here are some tactics:
Set a great example
As the leader of all those who work for you, it’s absolutely vital that you set a great example, because anything else would undermine all your efforts to show people what to do. They’d notice the difference between your words and your actions and object to your hypocrisy — or they might conclude that good leadership requires hypocrisy, learning the wrong lesson.
So what must you do to set a good example? Well, you don’t need to become a walking cliche, dishing out motivational quotes at a comical pace, being overly cheery, and reminding people that there’s no I in team. Instead, you must be honest, patient, communicative, and supportive. Treat your employees with kindness, but also push them to improve and reward their efforts.
Give people responsibility
How can someone learn to be an effective leader if they don’t lead anything or anyone? You can prepare them with related tasks, but you won’t know how ready they are until you actually give them a leadership opportunity to gauge how far they’ve come. Most people learn most effectively by doing, so think about how you can create these chances.
Perhaps you could create a new team project and give a suitable candidate the opportunity to manage it. Let them know what results you’re looking for, but otherwise step back and let them sink or swim: if they sink, help them out by letting them know what they did wrong and reassuring them that they can do better next time. If they swim, give them praise and encouragement so they’ll want to keep going.
Provide training options
While much about leadership can be figured out over time, there are many cases in which it’s beneficial to engage in training, so give your employees options for studying leadership principles. Provide them with access to training materials (online courses are great for this) and allow them some working time to review them. Different people learn differently, so one person might do better with quizzes than they would with anxiety-inducing real-world tests.
This will only go so far, but it can certainly help, so it’s worth attempting. As for which courses you should support, that’s up to you — there’s no shortage out there. Look for “leadership training” or “leadership skills training” to find well-reviewed online courses, or even find courses in your area that your employees can attend.
Offer worthwhile progression
Building your employees into more effective leaders is great for your business and good for them personally, but that might not be enough to get them interested, so you need to further incentivize it. To do that, you must offer meaningful progression within your business. What can someone who developers outstanding leadership skills get in return?
Some people will angle towards traditional promotion, usually moving up to the managerial level, so that’s certainly an option — but not the only option. You could also allow someone to pitch and run their own company projects: not technically changing their role, but instead deepening and expanding it. Naturally, there’s also the key matter of financial compensation: pay people with leadership skills more, and everyone will want to acquire them.
Each of these tactics can help significantly with encouraging your employees to develop leadership skills, so using them all is sure to make a difference. If you haven’t previously made a priority of building leaders, it’s time to change that. You won’t regret it.
Guest post courtesy of Kayleigh Alexandra