Some of the best leaders in the world spend their days developing others, preparing for the next generation of leaders to move into these roles and carry on the company philosophy, mission statement, and overall vision.
Seeing a leader as responsible for developing others is not a new concept, but it is one that is increasingly important. In sports terms, leaders that spend their energy and efforts in developing others have a “deep bench,” allowing them to choose people for specific projects, tasks, or positions and have full confidence that they have the skills, abilities, and understanding to take on the role and be successful.
There are several ways that leaders can use to develop others within their organization. Some of the most effective and easiest to implement include:
- Open dialogue – it is essential for the leader to understand the goals and vision of the other person. Trying to develop an individual in ways that are not in alignment with their vision of themselves is ineffective and frustrating for all involved.
- Coaching, not teaching – while there is a time to teach employees specific skills, developing others also includes the softer skill of coaching. Coaching supports the individual in gaining greater insight, providing opportunities for self-direction and self-discovery while also encouraging progress and forward motion. Coaching also involves working with the individual to set goals and develop plans to reach these goals.
- Model leadership – while this may seem obvious, effective leaders have to “walk the walk” to be able to develop other team members. Leaders need to be consistent, authentic and genuine in everything they do. Modeling this is a critical part of both employee development and creating a positive workplace culture.
- Using the team – encouraging a team approach to management where each team member uses his or her own skills, talents, and knowledge is a powerful way to build confidence and competency in any workplace.
- Respect and value – developing others starts with respect for each individual and valuing what they bring to the table. When leaders can do this, employees feel valued and important, allowing them to feel more comfortable taking risks and stepping out of their comfort zone.
- Provide learning opportunities – supporting team members and employees in their goal of self-development is a central leadership role. Providing these opportunities, either in-house or through workshops, seminars, conferences or classes, gives employees the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.
Developing others should be a central practice for any effective leader. It is a daily activity that can look different for each employee, but it is always designed to support those employees in their personal and professional growth.