Organizations of all types are hungry for leaders. We are at an interesting point in time when a very large generation of leaders, Baby Boomers, are starting to retire or at least step back from leadership positions they have held for years. Another very large generation of leaders, Millennials, are just starting to move into key leadership positions. This transition of leaders can be challenging for many organizations. How about you? What is your plan to grow, develop, and prepare leaders in your organization?
Leaders tend to learn best from other leaders. This is one reason your current leaders are the best resource your organization has to identify and grow your future leaders. Are you familiar with the term, succession planning? In many cases, leaders and organizations only view succession planning as reactive. A key person has left, or is leaving soon, and the company needs a plan to replace them. Succession planning can and should be more proactive. Leaders and the company working together to grow and develop the next leaders. Effective succession planning involves four strategies of development:
- Identifying potential leaders. There are many great tools to help with this process. The key is to have a pool larger than your anticipated needs.
- Equipping them to develop their leadership skills. This involves having an intentional plan, personalized to each leader.
- Mentoring them to be effective. Partnering up each potential leader with a current leader who can walk with them as they grow and develop.
- Empowering them to use their leadership skills. Research shows that the single biggest way to grow a leader is to give them a project they can lead.
So what do you look for in potential leaders? When hiring and promoting leaders, many times we focus too much on a person’s experience, education, and technical skills. Those are important, but should only be the baseline and not the only areas we look for in our potential leaders. Here are a few other areas I would strongly suggest we look for in new leaders:
- Character – evidence of honesty, teachability, humility, reliability, a healthy work ethic, willingness to serve others.
- Competence – ability to do the job, experience, education, talents, and skills.
- Chemistry – the ability to fit into the culture and work with teams of other people.
- Conviction – passionate about the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
- Commitment – devoted to growing as a leader. Willing to work on their own growth and development.
- Courage – willing to take a chance, push the envelope, and challenge the status quo.
Remember, there are some things you can teach . . . and some you cannot.
We can teach someone how to use Microsoft Office products, or how to fill out an expense report, or most of the other technical aspects of a leadership job. However, teaching the six “C” areas listed above are very unlikely. We can encourage them. We can add fuel to the fire if they are already in place in a person. But teaching them to a person is a whole different story.
Let’s look now at a few ways to equip leaders once you have identified them. First, determine the key competencies leaders in your organization need in order to be successful. (e.g. decision making, interpersonal skills, time management, emotional intelligence, conflict management, communication skills, problem solving, accountability, etc.) As you work with each individual leader, identify a competency where they are strong and one they need to develop. Have them put together a plan for each.
Another way to equip leaders is to invest in them. Leaders are readers. There are many great leadership books. Buy them a new book each month and ask them to share what they are learning with others. Here are a few of my favorite books for new leaders:
- Good to Great by James Collins;
- Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell;
- Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham;
- Leadership and the One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard;
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell; and
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
Send them to a leadership training event. Hire a leadership coach to work with them. It is less important how you are investing in each leader. What is important is for you to invest in their leadership development.
One of the wonderful aspects of today’s world is that great leadership development is available to all organizations. No matter what your size or budget. One of the greatest challenges for leadership development today is the pace of our lives at work and everywhere. We are often going so fast there is no time available to develop and grow ourselves, much less new leaders. That is the paradox of leadership development. It is not too late. Grow the leaders in your organization, including yourself, today so that you will be prepared for tomorrow.
Here are a few suggested next steps:
1) Put together a plan to grow yourself and the leaders around you.
2) Read the book Leaders Made Here by Mark Miller.
3) Work with a professional leadership coach who can provide encouragement, resources, and accountability.
- I am an ICF certified coach, and would love to schedule a FREE first call to explore a coaching journey with you and answer any questions you might have about coaching.
4) Engage with a professional leadership trainer and facilitator to work with you and your team. [like me 🙂 ]
5) Attend a leadership event of some type.
6) Check out my church leadership online webinars at: www.leadership4transformation.thinkific.com
Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Leadership seminar. Topics include:
- Accountable Leadership
- Growing New Leaders
- Creating a Leadership Culture
- Servant Leadership
- Time Management for the Christian Leader
- Setting Goals
- Basic Coaching Skills
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Strategic Ministry Planning