Many business owners and managers don’t fully understand the value in finding, training and developing leaders in their organizations. This is especially true of small businesses.
For the most part, I think business leaders are afraid that if their employees turn into successful leaders then they’ll lose them. That’s a valid fear, but should not be a fear at all.
People fail to realize that the better leaders those below them are, the better they (themselves) perform and the better they (the other leaders below them) make those above them look. I.e. if the team is great, the leader looks great; if the team sucks, then the leader looks bad. It’s to every company’s benefit to develop leaders within.
John Wooden was widely regarded as the greatest college coach in history and his 10 NCAA National Championships while at UCLA are unmatched. (bio source: Wikipedia). He spent some time developing leaders and gives us these four, simple steps:
- Appreciate them for who they are
- Believe that they will do their very best
- Praise their accomplishments
- Accept your personal responsibility to them as their leader
Lets go through each of these quickly:
Appreciate them for who they are
Many managers don’t appreciate the individuality that each team member brings. This is a mistake. The more you let your people be themselves then the better performance you’ll get out of them. But letting them be themselves isn’t enough, you have to learn to appreciate the uniqueness that each has. That uniqueness brings unique insights, skills, mindsets and strategies that when harnessed by the management can allow them to develop into a very strong leader.
Believe that they will do their very best
You’d think that this is obvious, but many leaders simply don’t have faith in their team. You have to change that. Everybody errs but you’ve got to get past those mistakes and not only believe that they’ll do their best, you’ve got to express that to them. And when they fail, help them through the process so their best the next time around is a success.
Praise their accomplishments
Everybody likes to be praised. The worst thing you can do to discourage your team is to not praise them when they think it is deserved. Every accomplishment, no matter how small should be acknowledged and praised. It only takes a second of thought to get hours or days of increased productivity.
Accept your personal responsibility to them as their leader
I’ve talked about this before, leaders need to accept responsibility rather than looking for places to lay blame. But it also goes far beyond that. A true leader’s responsibility to his or her team goes beyond responsibility for work performance but responsibility to act, perform, and care about them personally as a leader. You need to go that extra step to get to know your team personally, not just as workers.
Developing leaders is not easy. Many employees are there just for the job and have no long-term ambitions. That’s fine, every company needs those people too. You just don’t want to expend a bunch of resources on them, only what is required to get their best performance. Instead, find those in your organization that have the most potential to lead. Invest your resources in them and as they develop into strong leaders they’ll in turn begin to find, train and develop leaders below them. As your company grows (and it will as you develop more and more leaders) you begin to have a very deep bench in which to bring people up into more significant leadership roles.
You can never go wrong training your people to be good leaders, but failure to do so can be detrimental to your company’s success.