5 ways to groom employees into leaders

These strategies will empower employees, hone their skills, and prepare them to take on a larger role in the organisation.

Leaders cannot shy away from the fact that employee development is also a key part of their role. Grooming the leaders of tomorrow is an important function that increases employee engagement, empowers them to make better, more informed decisions, and ultimately benefits the organisation, which now has a ready set of leaders in the wings. Here are five strategies to develop skills that will benefit employees and the company alike

1. Encourage them to network
Networking is a great way to build connections that aid in personal and business growth. It plays a key role in building partnerships and spreading one’s sphere of influence, but is often ignored by leaders-in-training. This is where you step in. Show them the benefits of networking and ways to network effectively. Take them along with you to the next internal company event. Take them through the ropes of how to conduct themselves and represent the department. Encourage them to reach out, connect with people they don’t know and initiate conversations. Once they’ve got the hang of it, consider take them to industry events. This way they build on their people skills, form a reputation of their own as well as forge valuable contacts that can benefit the organisation.

2. Provide opportunities to develop leadership skills
A leader has to have many soft skills that can only be learnt through experience. So it’s important you keep this in mind while handing out assignments to leaders-in-training. Give them opportunities where they can grow and learn new skills that will help them become better, more effective leaders in the future. See if there are smaller tasks that you can hand off to them (under your supervision). These can range from making presentations to running meetings, to grooming new employees and taking charge of a small project. They will get an idea of what it’s like to be a manager and the skills they need to develop for the position.

3. Teach them that failures are learning opportunities
Failure is an integral part of the learning process. Most success is borne out of some form of failure. And it’s important you acknowledge and highlight this among your leaders-in-training. They need to know that it’s okay to fail sometimes, that no one has a perfect score. Teach them the value of failure so that they are able to take it in their stride and use it as a learning tool. They need to know how to bounce back from failure and keep going till the task gets done. After all, no one wants a leader who throws in the towel after the first miss.

4. Make them feel empowered
Training employees to become leaders is pointless if you do not give them the opportunity and leeway to make certain decisions. If you’ve assigned them an important task, don’t hover over their shoulder trying to micromanage or second-guess every decision they take. Show them that you trust their judgement. Let them exercise those leadership skills they’ve been imbibing. This will also help create an ownership mentality that will boost their productivity and create leaders that will rise to the occasion.

5. Provide regular feedback
Reviewing employee performance once a year has unfortunately become the norm. But continuous communication is essential if you want to develop employee potential and have them move to the next stage. Take the time out to provide constructive feedback and discuss individual as well as team goals with your leaders-in-training. These one-on-one sessions will help both of you identify opportunities for personal as well as business growth. These should be seen as candid sessions where employees are comfortable enough to speak their mind without fear of being reprimanded.

Photograph: Katemangostar – 

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