Grow your own leaders

As a strategy for SME business owners, growing your own pipeline of talent is a good one. If people can see there are clear paths for progression accompanied by strong personal development plans, you are well on the way to retaining your talent.

When it comes to your people leaders, it is important to be intentional about what you want to achieve. Start with the end in mind and work backwards. As a senior leader yourself, what experience, education and knowledge do you have that you can impart? What will help people get there quicker?

As we have said before, most individuals progress from doing something on the front line into line management. Unfortunately, being good at your current job does not necessarily mean you are going to be able to be a good people manager and leader. Individuals with no leadership training, experience or skills who are moved into roles managing others are most likely to cause you longer term issues – short term gain can lead to long term pain of people feeling de-motivated, lacking direction and support.

There really shouldn’t be any ‘sink or swim’ when it comes to people’s careers. Instead, you should be teaching your employees to swim based on proper training alongside support and coaching from within your organisation. If you are a small business, teach more of your employees to swim before they ever step into the pool (ok I think we have laboured this analogy now) by giving them leadership development before they become line managers. As Richard Branson said: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

We call these people ‘future leaders’ and when we have worked with clients to develop their future leaders before they step into line management roles, we always find that performance in their current role improves. Why? Because they begin to think and act like leaders. We help them to understand what people need from a line manager, how to motivate people, how their own feelings and beliefs impact their ability, and so much more. 

The saying goes that great leaders are built, not born. Promoting from within your organisation is a powerful, positive signal. But not everyone is set out to be a leader. Here are some of the attributes we have seen that lead to great people managers:

  1. Empathy: Do they consider other people’s opinions and viewpoints? Managers must understand the views of others, show good emotional intelligence, and avoid a one-size-fits-all management approach.
  2. Attention to detail: Do they produce quality work on their own or do you have to push them to maintain your desired standard? Managers set the bar, so be sure it’s a bar you’ll be happy with.
  3. Organised: Do they stay on top of their own work well enough you think they can do it for others? A disorganised manager will have a disorganised team.
  4. Leading: Have you seen them successfully take charge of a group before to tackle a problem? This shows they may have an interest in managing and the team is more likely to accept them as a leader.
  5. Growth mindset: Do they demonstrate an interest in growth and learning? People management is a steep learning curve which they have to be interested in working on. If they are someone who sees solutions to problems, this is a good sign they are someone with a growth mindset.

Our leadership development programme is CPD accredited and can be delivered flexibly to suit the needs of your organisation. Get in touch to find out more.

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