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How to Develop Your Future Leaders
Leadership development strategies should be high on the list of priorities for any organization, particularly for small, medium and large businesses that rely on efficient management teams. You need to ensure that key skills and invaluable business insights are shared and passed down to prospective leaders to avoid gaps in knowledge in the future.
We’ve picked out some of the key strategies you could utilize in your leadership development once you’ve hired and identified your own future leaders.
Give Them Wider Business Exposure
Ensure that your future leaders are able to fully appreciate all aspects of your business, not just their current department. You should also encourage them to gain a broad understanding of your industry as well the future possible directions for your organization. This is essential knowledge for any future business manager who may one day make the decisions that shape your organization.
Change Their Role and Responsibilities
Leadership development works best when your future leaders understand the importance of all the different roles in your organization. One day, it will be them making decisions that could affect all areas of the business, so it’s important that they develop an understanding from different perspectives.
Challenge Them With Real Business Situations
Placing your future leaders in real business situations will push and stretch them as much as possible while they attempt to solve or overcome the challenges you give them. Giving them difficult or heavy projects will reveal their capabilities and capacities as well as develop their critical thinking skills and creativity when faced with unfamiliar tasks. They will learn new skills, and you’ll enhance their commitment to your organization by boosting their confidence in what they can achieve.
Set Support Systems in Place
As an employer, you have a responsibility to support all your employees and your future leaders who will depend on you as they further their careers. Not all the decisions they make will be your ideal course of action, yet outwardly showing support for your future leaders demonstrates trust and respect in them.
Provide Mentoring and Coaching
Aspiring leaders should feel that there is someone they can turn to for advice, guidance and support on a professional level. You can appoint mentors by choosing your current leaders, or asking retired executives or relevant professionals in other companies for their input. Developing a structured mentoring program is important so you can determine the specifics of the relationships and track mentoring progress.
Without regular constructive feedback, your leadership development program can fail before it has had a chance to flourish. Let your future leaders know how they are performing, and give them praise and advice to encourage them on their journey. They will be eager to find out if they are doing a good job and if there are any areas for improvement or further development. Feedback will help you to identify early on if there are any issues or if you need to make any changes to the pace or structure of their development.
Reward Them Fairly
Recognize your future leaders’ achievements and growth throughout the leadership development program, and reward them accordingly. This may be in the form of performance goals, the challenge of further responsibility, a new job title, financial incentives or even a greater stake in the company’s future or the company itself. Be sure you know what motivates them and adapt your reward system accordingly. However you reward them, your future leaders will appreciate the gestures and feel more motivated and committed to sharing in the vision of your organization.
And remember, as a leader yourself, your management team will look to you for as an example to follow and for best practice. Review your own approach from time to time to ensure you lead by example and give your future leaders the role model they need.
To learn more about identifying potential leaders in your company, check out these top leadership qualities.