How to unlock leadership potential in your employees: Building leaders through upskilling
Every person has the potential for leadership in some or other capacity. So why is it that businesses and organisations struggle to fill higher positions with reliable, competent, and inspirational people from within?
This managerial headache can be attributed to a few factors. Mainly, employees quickly become comfortable in a new position after the stresses of the job application process are over. Secondly, too many employees fall into the trap of complacency and lose the drive to learn and develop personal mastery. Thirdly, becoming a leader is not a skill that’s easily mastered.
For your business, however, the benefits of retaining staff, nurturing development through upskilling and guiding them into positions of leadership cannot be overstated. By giving younger employees the training they need, you’re not only providing support for your current management but ensuring there’s a solid foundation in place for the future.
Here are some key steps you can take to start upskilling your next generation of leaders:
Identify and address skills gaps in your existing leadership first
Start by identifying and addressing the gaps in your current management’s leadership behaviours and skills. It’s your existing leaders who’ll set the example and impart invaluable guidance and training to your future leaders. If you train future leaders on behaviours and skills required to excel in leadership, yet your existing leaders do not embody these themselves, you are setting the entire process up to fail. There will be a lack of trust, commitment and buy-in from your future leaders.
Identify the ‘hidden leaders’ in your workforce
Now that your current leaders are on board with the process, they can help you identify those who are showing potential within their departments. According to Forbes, there are a few traits that these talented individuals exhibit:
- Strategic perspective.
- Inspires and motivates to high performance.
- Champions collaboration and teamwork.
- Has high ethical standards, upholds values, and acts as a role model.
- Willingness to innovate and take risks, while developing the talent in others.
Once these individuals have been earmarked for big things, your existing managerial staff can begin mentoring them. This support structure — having an expert to turn to for advice and guidance at any given time — provides an invaluable feedback loop that will both hasten and bolster their leadership development.
Track and celebrate exceptional leadership behaviour
The wheels of your leadership development programme are now officially in motion, and while it may be tempting to take a step back and let things take care of themselves, it’s absolutely critical you don’t.
In this phase, pay close attention to an employee’s ability to deliver results, while keeping track of their strengths and weaknesses with measurables such as performance reviews. Recognise progress made and celebrate exceptional behaviour. When your young leaders see that high-level management is taking an active interest in their development, it will push them to be as effective and productive as possible.