Leadership isn’t a constant. The way it is expressed varies and the way it is needed varies. There’s no “perfect leadership college” out there producing cookie cutter leaders ready to slot into your business. However, there are common themes to the qualities found in good leaders even if the expression of those themes is different.
Leaders will be the ones who naturally take charge when the situation calls for it. They demonstrate strong personal integrity and are passionate about doing the right thing and doing things right. In almost any organization you can find people who take to leadership naturally and it can be tempting to elevate them to a leadership role immediately; after all – if they show promise they’ll develop on the job right? Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as that.
If you want to take someone from within your organization and move them into a leadership role – you’re going to need to support their development as a leader or risk them turning out into something less than you had hoped for.
Picking The Right Potential Candidates
One of the biggest mistakes employers can make when elevating people from the rank and file is not to take a good look at the person they are promoting. Sure, leadership requires a certain type of personality and experience within a role but that’s the bare minimum and not the rounded profile that is most likely to succeed when they step into a leadership position.
The right person is going to be one who has already demonstrated success in the role that they do, they’ll have assumed some level of unofficial leadership too. Unofficial leadership occurs constantly throughout businesses. You can appoint a leader but people only seek leadership from those they trust. Someone who has delivered results, in a positive way, is someone that others turn to for advice and support. Those are the people who are going to be easiest to mold into top tier leaders for your business.
Examine Their Motivations
Before you write that contract for your new leader; you need to ask yourself what is this person looking for from the role?
The leaders you want will talk about personal growth and business growth. They know that the purpose of leadership is to navigate change and to do so by bringing their teams with them on a journey. It’s an understanding of the purpose of leadership that will give you confidence that you’re appointing the right leader for this time and place.
The worst leaders, on the other hand, don’t give a second thought about personal and business growth. They don’t want a leadership role for the right reasons; they want it for one reason – personal power. They want to talk about how many people they will lead and how many of them will be their direct reports. They’ll mention how they’ve always known that they should/could be a boss and now it’s time to prove everyone right.
The leader that wants the job for power is going to have a very rocky start in the role and may end up alienating everyone around them before they get it right.
Share the Business Direction
You can’t expect someone to lead; if you don’t tell them where they’re going. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when appointing leaders is not giving the new leader enough information to lead.
That means you have to share the strategic positioning and direction of the business with the new leader. It also means, on the flip side of that, that the new leader must be able to understand that direction and position.
There’s no point in deciding that the business will move forward based on rapid technological improvement and then appointing a leader who has barely heard of Windows. While leaders don’t always have to be able to do “the doing” – they do need to understand what’s needed well enough to bring the right people on board and to communicate effectively with those people.
Enable Their Listening Skills
Good leaders are there to determine the course of action. In modern workplaces a leader, who tries to do this by themselves without any input from their team, is going to cause a mutiny not a performance increase.
Leadership roles today are consultative and that doesn’t mean holding a meeting to solicit ideas and then snoring at the back and waiting for the recap at the end; it means listening to people.
The best leaders encourage people to talk to them. They want to know what problems the team is facing. They need to understand when someone identifies a real opportunity and to be able to help the team exploit such opportunities. Leadership isn’t telling people what to do; it’s working out what people should do based on their input.
Assist Them to Develop a Vision
The reason people choose to follow leaders is that they believe in what that leader has to offer. Much of that “what they have to offer” is down to the way that the leader communicates with the people they are to lead.
At the heart of successful leadership communication is the leader’s vision. It’s their version of the future and it must be interesting and motivating to the people around them. If you can help your leader get to the point where they can articulate their vision in a compelling fashion – you can help your leader be ready to take charge within the greater team.
There is a mistake belief that leaders are born not made. This isn’t true and most people are capable of showing leadership at some point in their careers. However, what is true is that every leader needs to be chosen for the right leadership occasion and that they will need some development to assume the mantle of leadership successfully. Choose the right people, make sure they have the right motivation, give them the information they need, make sure they can listen and help them to be able to share their vision and you’ll have the right people leading your business forward.