Leaders are people who help themselves and others to do the right things. They are the ones responsible for setting direction, building an inspiring vision and creating new things. After all, leadership is all about mapping out where an organisation or team needs to go next to win. It is dynamic, exciting and inspiring. So what makes an organisation successful? Many secrets may exist but one is crucial good leadership. A global study published in 2011 said organisations with strong leaders were much more likely to beat their rivals in areas such as earnings, product quality and customer satisfaction. To be precise, the probability is 13 times that.
This, of course, means good leaders are in high demand. But they are in short supply too. So, where does that leave you if you want better leadership within your organisation? The answer is to build new great leaders. Best of all, investing in leadership will spread the commitment through all levels, improving the organisation. Remember how difficult it was to do group projects at school? People throw things around endlessly, speak in circles forever, struggling to make decisions forever. Such pointless conversations can go on and on unless someone steps up and takes responsibility. This person gives the conversation structure, helps link the dots between concepts, and also assigns roles and responsibilities. Suddenly, finishing the project seems a lot more realistic!
There is power in numbers and good leadership is also true of that. Sure, there will be the main person in charge, but that doesn't mean that his/her team shouldn't also have leadership abilities. In Management Expert Peter Drucker's words, "No boss has ever suffered because his subordinates were powerful and effective." There are many benefits to developing leaders within your organisation. For one, the more leaders that you have, the more tools that are available to you. Can one person keep an eye on everything? Solve every problem, get every bright idea generated and executed? They can’t. So they need to delegate a great leader. And for this to work, there needs to be a whole network of leaders in the organisation. These will ensure the organisation is in good hands, but they will also provide access to a new range of ideas and perspectives.
And there is more in there. A team of impressive leaders is adding to the reputation of your organisation. This helps you attract other talented people, who will help you grow. And when we talk about growth, a leadership team will give you the momentum you need to get going. Think about it like this; if one strong person then tries to push a heavy car up the hill, well, they will struggle, of course. Now, imagine joining in a community of similarly strong men. The car gets very fast going. And that is the kind of advantage that you gain when investing in leadership development. So, how are you developing the kind of leaders who can give the upper hand to your organisation? Well, you need to find people that can take on those roles first. So then, you need to feed them. You need to look for people with both the skills that your organisation needs, and are the leader's in the making.
To find the right people you need to ask yourself the following questions. What is the organisation's vision? What are your targets for that? What tools will help you achieve those objectives? And can you name people in all these places, who would be a good fit? It is they you ought to be developing. For example, if the goal of your company is to climb trees, you would recruit squirrels, and not train horses to do the job. You will know somebody is right from their track record with your organisation. We should have a history of having good results in the right places. Remember: Horses are not squirrels. A track record is important because it shows the potential to produce great results for others. You can hone in on those who have leadership potential when you know what kind of people you need in your organisation.
Well, people with a knack for leadership are good at taking charge and they enjoy it. They also can draw others to them and influence them. Such qualities are important for bringing people to work for a common goal. But the talent for leadership alone isn't enough. You should also want to lead the people you choose and be prepared to work hard – to persevere in the face of defeat. He/she should be passionate and good-natured enough to persuade others to follow. Motivation will start your future leaders and building good habits will help them go the distance. Talent and a good track record are some of the qualities that will help you identify a potential leader. But those two things alone will not make a potential leader a great leader. After all, there are many talented people whose careers fizzle out.
Aspiring leaders need to push them forward and keep them moving forward. This is where motivation and habit come in. The main point here is: inspiration is going to get your future leaders underway, and good habits are going to help them go the distance. Let us begin with motivation. Different people have different motivations. So, you need to know when you are developing a leader what motivation is right for them. There are seven common motivations during a long career in leadership. These are:
- Sense of purpose
- A need for autonomy
- The promise of forming relationships
- The idea of personal and professional growth
- The desire to master a skill
- The need for recognition
- The promise of financial reward
You can give them exactly what they need when you know what motivates your potential leaders. For example, if someone is motivated by money, you can give them a raise if they do well. And if they are guided by expertise, provide chances to refine a specific ability. There will be more than one motivator for many people so you may need to be flexible. Now motivation is useful at the beginning of someone's leadership path, but in the long term, it isn't always sustainable. One day, your training leader might find they are no longer inspired by the thought of more money or strong connections. That is the solution? Ok, you will help them build behaviours that will get them to the finish line.
Show that you believe in them, inspire them through tough times, teach them to do the right thing and set yourself as a good example. And they should work diligently to better themselves, in return. Over time, this consistency leads to habit, and being in the habit of always improving is what will eventually make them great leaders. Budding leaders thrive when they have the chance to learn from and connect with established leaders. Have you ever heard of a writers' group? Its members meet regularly to share their writing projects and give each other feedback. Crucially, they hold each other accountable for their ability to practice and grow, and this helps each of them improve their skills. You can pick up a lot from how these groups are run, as someone in the business of developing leaders. It's enormously beneficial to allow future leaders the ability to learn from others.
This space can be described as a table of leadership, a gathering where leaders can learn, share their successes and failures, and build their leadership skills together. A leadership table should not be an exclusive VIP room for the organisation's best members. Widen it out. Invite people with leadership potential to join in; allow them to learn. Your leadership table members should be applying what they learn in their daily lives. And their progress, setbacks and insights should also be reported back. But a table of leadership does more than simply create room for growth. This also helps future leaders to take advantage of something called proximity control. As its members spend time with more experienced leaders, they learn new ways to think, approach problems, and take action. Put the leaders in a strategy meeting or high-level conversation that you are growing into. This alone will give them so much more than just reading about corporate tactics.
And there's much more to learn from spending time with stronger, more experienced leaders than your potential stars would. They are going to shape relations. The right connections can be very useful for a leader. They can be an information source, they can open doors and they can provide services. Through putting emerging leaders in the same space as your organization's senior members, you are not only cultivating them. To learn effectively, aspiring leaders need practice, direction, and freedom. A group of researchers discovered this in the 1990s when they surveyed 200 learners. The result was the Learning Model 70/20/10. Scientists found that during hands-on practical experience 70 per cent of learning happens. Twenty per cent come from input and coaching, and the remaining ten per cent come from preparation. And, to learn from your future leaders, give them chances to get their hands dirty and work on real issues. Now, doing the research may get people to learn, but if they simply wander from one task to another, they won't develop. You need a roadmap for them. And that means setting targets.
Each target should be demanding and exhausting but still within control. An over-ambitious target can be easily discouraging. The goals should be observable, too. In plain terms, this means that it will be easy to assess if a target has been achieved. And last but not least, objectives need to be clearly stated and put in writing. This will render accountable to your future leaders. Strong leaderships are both important and difficult to find. But you can grow your own. Identify people with great potential and transform them into leaders. You can do this by paying attention to what drives people, by teaching them the habit of growth, and by giving them the experience of leadership first-hand. The leaders that you are going to build will drive your organization to success.
Read more on how to create a culture of leadership within your organisation from the book below:
Kudzai Derera is the Business Systems Manager at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
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