Leadership is learned by practice and reinforced with coaching and formal training. One of the biggest challenges facing today’s integrators is identifying and training current and future leaders. Spotting a potential leader is fairly easy (if you know what you’re looking for).
How to Identify Leaders
Here are some things to keep in mind as you look for the perfect candidate for your next leadership position.
Potential leaders are:
Attracting Attention in the Workplace
Who are the people within your organization that individuals gravitate toward for advice or review of ideas before submitting them to decision-makers? These individuals deserve a close look for leadership opportunities. Why? Employees have a tendency to seek counsel from the people who they believe have the best ideas and can help them develop solutions. It’s a pretty safe bet that these types of people are candidates for your next generation of leadership.
Active in Meetings
One of the best ways to spot potential leaders within your organization is to observe how they conduct themselves in meetings. Pay close attention to the ones who always come prepared and frequently ask challenging, thought-provoking questions.
Also pay close attention to individuals who know how to use the art of persuasion to win over colleagues and executives with their ideas and solutions.
Potential leaders are always thinking. They are innately wired to be problem-solvers; they are never afraid to share thoughts and ideas that can lead to more effective solutions. They think strategically. One good way to spot these people is by inviting them to participate in brainstorming sessions. Do they contribute? Do they respect and listen to other ideas? Are they quick to support the best ideas? This is important. Leaders are confident and direct, but they are also quick to support others.
Great Under Pressure
One of the best ways to find leaders is by giving them tasks that test their performance under pressure. This allows you to see them in action and assess how they react to certain situations (and how they take on challenges).
How to Train & Mentor Leaders
Identifying potential leaders is just one part of the equation. Once you’ve identified these individuals, there are several things you can do as you begin the process of mentoring and training them to ensure that they not only turn into great leaders, but are also happy and fulfilled along the way.
Set Clear Expectations
Before embarking on training and coaching, be sure to set clear expectations of what success looks like. Employees – and especially leadership candidates – need to know what you expect from them. The best ways to do this are to conduct regular meetings and facilitate consistent and frequent communication between managers and potential leaders.
Build a High-Trust Environment
Employees thrive on high-trust environments; future leaders are especially attracted to high-trust situations. Managers can build a better trust environment by listening carefully to the suggestions of their team members; keeping them in the loop with organizational goals, plans, and strategies; soliciting and using their feedback on a regular basis; and recognizing and rewarding them for good work.
Arm Them with Necessary Tools for Development
One of the best ways to help employees grow and develop into potential leaders is to give them access to helpful tools, training, and resources. Potential leaders are generally attracted to the idea of always learning and growing, so when you can build these opportunities for growth experiences into their work lives, it can go a long way toward keeping them happy, productive, and motivated to stay around.
This is particularly important if your company does not have a dedicated training department. Investing in continuing educational opportunities and new experiences that will help broaden their skills further, as well as providing them with opportunities for mentoring, are key components of cultivating leadership.