You’re probably thinking your company doesn’t have a leadership crisis, especially if you’re a leader. If your company, or team, isn’t currently developing the next generation of leaders, congratulations you have a leadership crisis! The good news is now is the right time to do something about it. Before I go too far, let’s acknowledge there are a lot of bad “leaders” running amok. You can still do something, if you are willing to put in the necessary effort. Either way the best thing you can do to solve the leadership crisis is to create a leadership culture. This means you are developing a group of ready-now leaders to fill gaps in your organization, when the opportunity presents itself. It doesn’t mean you pick one rising star and put all of your efforts into developing them. They may go on to be a great leader, within your organization, on another team, or even another company. So why not create an abundance of people who think, and act, like leaders, even if they aren’t in leadership roles? The truth is even without a title, team members can be leaders in a lot of ways. They could be tasked to organize a committee, or represent your team in a large project, or coordinate a team activity. A lot of opportunities can be overlooked as ways to give team members leadership experience. Do you want them going into these situations without the proper skills? Keep in mind, if you are their leader, they will give others insight into your ability to lead. That shouldn’t be the main reason you want them to succeed, but if you’re a leader who isn’t developing other leaders, you’re just a manager.
So how do you create a leadership culture? First, you may need to do a self-analysis and ask yourself if you are growing, as a leader. If not, fix it! If you’re not growing, you aren’t setting a very good example. John Maxwell says leadership is more caught, than taught! This means your actions may say more about you than anything you are trying to teach your team. Next, you need to equip your team members. If they can’t make a decision, without your input, you are either a micro-manager, or your team members are leeches. Yes, I called them leeches! They are leeching your time and energy, because you let them! So if they are capable, equip them to make decisions on their own. This doesn’t happen overnight, you have to start them out with small decisions and work them up to larger ones, as they prove they are capable. If they can’t do this without you, one of you is redundant! So which one of the people in that scenario do you want to move on? Next, you need to delegate. I am a big fan of delegation done correctly. I think if there was only one thing a successful leader had to do well, delegation would be at the top of the list! Proper delegation means you are freeing yourself up to do the things only you can do. It also means you are giving team members the ability to be stretched, and hopefully grow. When they prove they are capable of handling the extra responsibility you can give them more. You also want to be sure they are looking for opportunities to delegate, because if they aren’t, they are going to have a bandwidth problem. Finally, you need to advocate for the team members. If they have gone through the process successfully, they will be in a good position to take on a larger role. Invite them to leadership meetings so other leaders can get to know them. Talk to other leaders to see what leadership challenges they are facing and let them know about a team member they might want to talk to, from your team. In the end, if your team is stocked with ready-now leaders, you become a bit of a farm system, like in baseball, for the organization. That will reflect very well on your leadership ability, but it will also place team members, who know this model, throughout the organization. Like a virus ( a good one, if there is such a thing) your organization will be infected with the leadership bug.
A great way to help accelerate the development of these potential leaders is to work with a coach. Coaching has a great ROI, so why not learn more by requesting a consult?