It started in January with a list of top ten tips leaders needed to heed for the year and as we’ve progressed, we’re now at Tip 7: Develop New Leaders. How, how fast, how well, and how often you make it a priority to develop those who will lead after you, and maybe even take on your position when you get promoted, impacts the perceived value of your leadership. But how do you do it and frankly, who’s got time for it on days when it’s late afternoon before you feel you’ve really even gotten started. One step at a time is the logical answer, but let’s be even more tactical. There are multiple ways to facilitate new leader development, but in this Monday Moment list we’ve culled your options down to steps that could easily take fifteen minutes or less.
Identify Your Top Contenders
Put on your list of today’s needed tasks, this action item. Then think of the team you lead and mentally identify those you believe have the most potential for excelling in positions of greater responsibility and leadership. Your reasons for potential need not be spoken and could be based on your knowledge of them, experience in working with them, or simple gut instinct. The point is to think for a moment of your team members and identify the ones that you know have the most immediate or highest levels of potential. Record that list of names somewhere. Step one and done.
Whether it’s a text, quick call, chat by the water fountain, or formal sit-down meeting, connect with your high potentials regularly. These promotables have what you’ve deemed as a lot of potential and staying connected to them will help you help them make rapid progress. Staying connected builds rapport and the more rapport you have with a team member the less time is spent on awkward, break the ice conversation. When you’ve talked with someone daily for weeks, you can text him and say have you finished that yet? If you’ve not connected in a while, you have to ask about the weather, their holiday weekend and so forth to build back up to the level of familiarity needed to be that direct.
Assign Development Actions
If you know which ones among the team you have the privilege of leading are most likely to be future leaders, chances are you also have a clear handle on what each person needs in the way of development. Determine one resource, action, class, experience, book, or assignment that would provide the opportunity for such growth and invite each employee to get started on it. Technically, determining the assigned resource could take a few minutes and then assigning it to the person could take a minute longer. This may be a fifteen minute per person step, but it’s still doable.
Provide Simple Format
Follow through can be time consuming and if you have a team of ten, seven of which you’ve said have potential, you’re now in need of following up with seven people, or so it would seem when you feel responsible. You’re not. You as the leader are responsible for their development, responsible for guiding them to it and giving them the opportunity. You are not responsible for making sure they take you up on it. Provide a simple progress update format and ask them to follow it. This could be as simple as a three bullet or three sentence email that says what they did, how it went, and what they plan to do with the learning from the experience. Letting go of the need to follow up on their progress in the area of growth and development is not universal, nor always applicable. However, in the case of developing future leaders, one skill they need is initiative and the act of you letting them prove they have some is one more way to validate if they should remain on the high potential list and be given more and more opportunities.
Clean the List
In truth, not everyone who has the potential, wishes to exercise his or her potential by seeking out a future position in leadership. This could be for a dozen different reasons but is a fact to which you want to pay attention. Simply because you ear mark someone as a possible future leader candidate does not mean he or she is interested in going all the way with that aspiration. Provide opportunities, request updates and watch for engagement. Should you find a few who are less inclined to demonstrate commitment, remove them from your list of potential new leader candidates and stay open to the idea that he or she could return to it at some point even if it is not this very moment.
As the leader of others, you spotted potential, determined development opportunities and shared a simple way for employees with potential to show their commitment and share progress. Now is the time to request goals from each of them still showing interest in being promoted to a higher-level position. What do they want? What position are they truly after? Where do they see themselves in twelve months, eighteen months, or three years? Developing new leaders does not mean you need to be psychic or telepathic. In truth, the process is much more about communicating, listening, and being interested in aligning the potential you see with the potential they see in themselves. Requesting their goals will be good validation and provide clarity on whether or not you’re heading in the right direction, as well as give you ideas for your next assignment of resources for development.
Repeat the Process
Six steps. Most of which are done with an email sent to each person or an internal list made of your selections, each in likely under 15 minutes. Leaders don’t fail to develop new leaders because they have no interest. They fail much more often because they have no process. Follow these six steps and then with your new list, or the next round of people you can clearly see have potential, you simply repeat the process.
Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?
Each Monday Moment shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic. This week’s challenge is to work through the first two steps of how to develop new leaders in fifteen minutes or less. Put it on your list and dedicate the few minutes needed to complete it. For your consideration, if you did two steps per week per person you find has potential, you’d have done more in less than a month than many leaders do in the time between annual appraisals.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!
Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.