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…easy, at least, if you know what you’re looking for.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you look for the perfect candidate for your next leadership position. Keys to spotting potential leaders:
• They Attract Attention In The Workplace: People within your organization most likely gravitate toward certain individuals for advice or review of ideas before submitting them to decision makers for consideration. 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.
• They are Active In Meetings: One of the best ways to spot potential leaders 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.
• They Are Thinkers: Potential leaders are always thinking. They are innately wired to be problem solvers; they are never afraid to share the thoughts and ideas they have 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, and are they quick to support the best ideas? This is important. Leaders are confident and direct, but also are quick to support others.
• They Are 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).
Of course, identifying potential leaders is just one part of the equation. Once you have 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 develop into great leaders, but that they’re also happy and fulfilled along the way.
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 we 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, and future leaders are especially attracted to high-trust situations. Managers can build a better trust environment by listening carefully to the suggestions of your team members, by keeping them in the loop with organizational goals, plans and strategies, by soliciting and using their feedback on a regular basis, and by 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.
If you want to learn more about cultivating leadership within your organization, join us at NSCA’s 17th annual Business & Leadership Conference in Tampa FL, February 26-28, 2015. This event draws together more than 300 leaders from integration firms around the country to discuss best practices, share success stories and lessons learned, and learn new ways to lead their organizations.
The complete event schedule, including keynotes and educational sessions, can be found at nsca.org/blc/sessions; register today at nsca.org/blc.
We hope to see you there!
[button type=”large” color=”white” link=”http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/66f2bba9#/66f2bba9/1″ ]Read More From This Issue[/button]