Crucial for a company’s long-term success is building a leadership development culture. As your company grows, executives should not just hope that a leader will emerge from their ranks, or they’ll end up scrambling when it’s time to transition into new positions. They need to develop future leaders who understand the organization and can be confident in carrying out crucial priorities and goals while also being aligned with your company’s vision. This means one thing: you need to create a culture of leadership development in your company as soon as possible!
Leaders are not born; they’re made. And your employees have a much better chance of developing an organization with an intentional strategy to develop leaders. The successful leader keeps an eye out for leadership potential and nourishes it with growth-friendly environments. The idea is to groom the next generation from within so that candidates are ready to take on those new roles confidently when opportunities arise. And, importantly, they understand your company’s cultural values, priorities, and goals.
In this blog post, we will discuss three key points that any business owner can implement immediately to cultivate a culture of leadership development in their organization.
Be intentional about building a leadership development culture
You cannot develop leaders without commitment and a plan. The plan can take many forms, from mentoring or coaching or simply giving people opportunities to lead projects outside their usual scope. Make it a priority and establish your plan for leadership development.
The first step is to discuss with your existing leadership to identify who on their team has the potential to lead. This conversation is crucial. Challenge assumptions, push for deeper consideration, and to consider every team member equally.
Next, broaden the discussion to your leadership team. Make sure all are aware of the potential leaders and ask for opportunities to grow them. Cross-disciplinary projects can create great developmental opportunities. And discuss the development of these team members as a group at least quarterly.
Finally, make sure you have identified the leadership development program as both a strategy and action plan in your business plan for the coming year.
Build a leadership development culture around mentorship and collaboration
As you identify the potential leaders in your organization, you also need to create the environment for them to succeed. The resulting culture will both benefit your business and draw the best candidates to your organization. The cultural items to consider here are mentorship and collaboration.
Mentorship is the process of having a more experienced person provide guidance and advice to help another develop their knowledge. Mentorships can be formal or informal. You may choose to assign potential leaders with a mentor. This option requires thoughtful consideration on creating the right pairings. You may need time to see how relationships develop with newer employees before making the assignment formal. Once created, set expectations around how often they will meet, what areas they will focus on and how long the mentorship will last. The informal option doesn’t create specific pairings but calls on leaders to reach out to employees for discussion on their goals, challenges, and opportunities. While more challenging to track your progress, this does encourage broader connections and greater engagement.
Collaboration means working together on projects to meet objectives with an improved potential for success through shared insights, ideas, and skills. Prospective leaders need to be able to work together and share their knowledge. You will want them to feel like they are part of a team, not just individuals in it on their own. Collaborating strengthens bonds, builds on individual skills and talents, and identifies developmental opportunities. It starts a culture of collaboration that promotes communication, co-creation, and innovation. The partnership will help to develop the next generation of leaders in your company.
Create opportunities for professional development
The last key to building a culture of leadership development is creating the space for professional development. Create programs for your employees where they can build new skills that will help them become better leaders. They can attend training, seminars or read books and participate in group discussions.
Leadership must be involved in the development of the programs. They can be a part of the design process to ensure content is interactive, engaging, and relevant to company culture and vision. A challenge with external training programs is if they aren’t relevant to your company’s values, so explore those differences with the team after the training.
Leadership development programs will help your organization because they allow for new insights so you can create innovative solutions, boost creativity, build skills faster, find better ways to engage employees, and provide them with new opportunities.
Your company needs leadership development. I often hear from companies struggling to find their next-generation leaders because they didn’t create an intentional strategy for it early enough on in the game. Your company’s long-term success must focus now on developing future leaders who understand and can confidently carry out organizational priorities while also being aligned with your vision as a business owner. And not just hope someone will emerge or scramble when it’s time to transition into new positions – this means one thing: you need to start creating a culture of leadership development within your organization right away!
Contact me about my master class, “From Accidental Leader To Confident Executive,” to learn more about developing your leadership skills so you can begin to develop others!