Last week I discussed how to identify current and future leaders inside your company. The tactics include observing colleague interactions and basic skill testing (but I encourage you to read the details if you haven’t yet.) Now that you’ve identified some potential leaders inside your organization, it’s time to put them through their paces.
The best leaders have been through a baptism by fire: refining their character, work ethic, and practical skills. You’re going to provide that experience—but in a nice way.
Bigger projects, more responsibility – Once they’ve proven themselves on tasks, move to a larger project. Take your time to be honest and helpful: recognize the way you work with your potential leader is how they will eventually work with their own star employees.
Mentoring through failures – We’ve all had setbacks and failures. Leaders analyze those experiences, their complicity in the failure, and determine to do better. While a natural leader may work through the steps of failure intuitively, you can mentor a potential leader through the same steps.
My biggest challenge after I’ve identified a leader is not being able to keep them within the company. The best leaders will eventually turn and leave if they lack interesting opportunities and are not adequately recognized nor appreciated for their contributions. You are responsible for providing as many challenges as possible, and even more importantly, for recognizing your potential leader’s efforts.
Make it a priority to use daily, weekly, or quarterly meetings to call attention to your leadership stars. Communicate to other employees the qualities that made your honored employee into a leader. By sharing the reasons for recognition, other employees have the chance to deliver on the qualities you value most in your culture.