If your company lacks a clear strategy for moving talented employees into leadership, now’s the perfect time to establish one. As Baby Boomers retire, employers are busy grooming younger employees to become new leaders. Companies are spending thousands (some tens, and even hundreds of thousands) annually on the task of growing talent strategically.
One way to foster a climate of support for aspiring leaders is to give senior leaders visible roles that go beyond the basics of hiring and project management. Ask current leaders to act as mentors, lead seminars, and provide feedback to their teams. Some employees, when they see more of what’s involved in leadership, will be motivated to step up and learn more.
But not everyone on your team is destined to lead, nor does everyone wish to try. That’s why you need a method for selecting the best candidates to become leaders. Here are three key factors to keep in mind when planning your leader development program:
Foundational traits — The foundational qualities are pretty hard and fast, and can be tough to change over a candidate’s career. These include complex problem-solving skills, and the ability to empathize and work well with a team.
The growth factor — Unlike the foundational qualities of leadership development, the growth factor leaves you a lot of room to help your employee develop. Some of your team will leap at the chance to grow into different job duties or more responsibilities. But for others, even some who show strong foundational traits, you’ll need to help them discover and appreciate their own potential areas for growth.
The growth factor ties in with your company’s supportive environment for developing leaders as well as the individual’s personal interest in the specific area of leadership. Both can be cultivated over time to facilitate the development of talent.
Career dimensions — This factor covers anything from the candidate’s background to the training and education that make him a likely candidate to lead in your company. Does she tend to take on extra tasks and complete them with excellence? Does he work consistently to grow and enhance his mastery of relevant skills, or seek to broaden his understanding of other aspects of your company’s business? All these are good indicators of a candidate’s leadership potential.
The Boomer exodus from the job market doesn’t have to be bad news for leadership in your organization. By encouraging current leadership, looking for willing new leaders, and creating a supportive culture for candidates, you can grow first-class talent strategically and successfully over time!
Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored numerous best-selling books and The Ramsey Show is heard by 18 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.