Your Leaders Are Likely Already in Your Organization
While there can be a tendency to look outside for new leaders, there is plenty of talent within your organization to explore. We encourage you to consider internal talent. Both internal and external hires can be crucial to a well-managed talent strategy, but promoting from within has the dual benefit of not only finding a great candidate, but also creating development opportunities for your teams. The question is how to identify those that have the qualities to lead your structure into the future. Here are a few tips for identifying potential leadership:
- Build relationships with team members: Have honest conversations with your people about topics other than your organization. In addition to identifying potential leadership qualities, you will also be able to discover what drives them.
- Walk and talk: Schedule times to get coffee with your team members. You might consider walking and talking on the way to the coffee shop. You will be surprised how free-flowing the conversation will be when you both are distracted by walking.
- Develop an IDP for every team member: The key to developing a strong group of future leaders is by having a company-wide commitment to development. Not every employee wants to be a people leader, some may want to be a Subject Matter Expert in a specific team. Whatever the path of each team member, understanding how their goals and interests intersect with the business objectives will help you provide interesting opportunities for development while also building team agility. If a new role opens in response to a changing need or new strategy, you will be able to respond and identify a leader to take on that role much quicker, if every team member has an IDP, has been working on developing skills to reach their IDP with their leader, and is regularly updating it to align with the company strategy.
- Help your team members identify mentors: Once you have learned about your team members’ vision for their career, you can help them build mentor relationships. These mentors can help your team build skills and expertise outside of your functional area or give them a different perspective on the business. By having multiple leaders helping them develop, team members will feel more valued, and be able to develop their leadership skills with a well rounded view.
- Talk to other leaders and your teams: It's usually apparent when you have a budding leader in your organization. When you engage with co-workers in your organization, and proactively seek to learn more about their work priorities, leadership styles, and effectiveness. By asking about the status of a project or how meetings are being led, you will not only build engagement by showing your interest, you may also learn about the leadership potential of the team member and successes they have had in their role.
By performing an exhaustive search of your existing team before you look outside for leaders, you are giving your organization a few advantages. Those within your organization have experience with your systems, making the on-baroding process much quicker. Internal hires have already made a commitment and investment in your goals, and they also have connections within the company and their team meaning they will be able to focus on delivering results right out of the gate. Last but not least, hiring and promoting from within, shows your team that there is a development path for them. It reinforces that with success may come the opportunity to take on larger projects or team management.
Team Silos Limit Communications and Opportunities To Foster Leadership
It is impossible to identify and raise up new leaders if you are not familiar with their work, ideas, and vision of their career. It is vital for your current managers to find ways to make sure they are having conversations with the leaders of the future.
At TEAMES & CO, we often work with leaders to uncover and break down the communication silos when they are prevalent in an organization. These silos are often put up unintentionally. Many times, you are trying to protect your teams from the anxiety and pressure of working on too many projects or interacting with too many teams. However, when your leadership is isolated, it is impossible to build solid relationships with your team members.
Tear down communication silos so you can find your organization’s next leaders.
By working with other teams, you are able to remove friction points for your teams, but you can also see how team members are working together. You can work with team members to improve their collaboration and communication skills, two vital leadership skills. By working across teams, you will also be able to provide greater opportunities for your team members to lead cross-functional projects. This is a great step in a new leader’s career. Leading a project gives them a defined project with key deliverables. It requires they work well with multiple team members, while also managing upward communication. Cross-functional project leadership is a great opportunity for you to mentor your team member in their first leadership step.
Raising Up Leaders Works Best in an Innovative Environment
There are dozens of reasons to develop a culture of innovation. None the least of which is how a culture of creativity reveals natural leaders. When an organization is open to innovation, they are open to new ideas. This creates opportunities for leaders to step up and create exceptional solutions. If your company’s culture is not especially collaborative and innovative, it is vital to move in that direction. For more about how you can do that, TEAMES & CO stands ready to help.
Be Careful Not To Overwhelm Your Leaders
Once you have identified a potential leader, it is vital to spend time in development. It’s similar to professional sports. Many times a team will acquire a player in the draft that has a high ceiling of potential but needs time to sit behind a veteran. New leaders need coaching, immersion in your system, and time to develop into the leader you know they can be.
Your leadership candidates will likely be coming from areas in your organization in which they were specialists. They will need time and help to adjust to their having a broader scope of responsibility. Leadership is not a “sink or swim” endeavor. Help your leaders be prepared without becoming overwhelmed. You will want to set up more frequent meetings to help them navigate the new challenges of leadership. You can also speak to your HR team about new leader trainings. If no internal trainings are offered you can learn more about our on-demand courses here.
Making Time To Invest in Your Team
Unfortunately, you may not be the only one searching your team for potential leaders. The truth is if you do not raise up your future rock stars, you will lose them. Always be ready to invest in the next group of managers. Even if you do not have the space to promote them, make sure they know you are on their side. Provide coaching, continued education opportunities, responsibility, and incentives to make sure they are ready when it's time to be called upon.
While this takes time, your efforts will support the success of your teams and your organization. The best way to prepare for the future is to invest in your teams, ensuring you have the right people in the right roles with the tools to be successful.
If you want to make sure you are taking every opportunity to raise up your next leaders, TEAMES & CO is here to help. We will work with you and your entire team to identify ways you can improve your ladder to management. From on-demand courses to coaching to full project support, we will develop a strategy specific for your organization and be there each step of the way to build your teams. Contact us for more information.