As corporate culture and business structures seem to change ever faster, there’s one thing you need to ensure your company achieves exceptional and sustainable results – and that’s great leadership.
A recent parliamentary report states ‘good management and leadership within SMEs can increase productivity, turnover and employment.’
The report cites an example of a leadership and management programme run by Goldman Sachs, which has helped 1,400 businesses, and reported that, on average, participants experienced a 22% increase in productivity after the programme.
So it’s clear that there’s a correlation between good leadership and successful organisations. But the question of leadership is an ongoing one. Companies need a plan for the continuity of their leaders that is an integral part of their long-term strategy. What’s needed is a structure that highlights current employees with leadership potential.
Why look within?
By nurturing the talent you already have, you work with people who already have a great start. They know the culture, processes and systems that the company uses. By understanding the strong – and weaker – aspects of the company, they will be able to make more informed decisions.
We can cite numerous examples of internal promotions if we look to larger corporations. The CEO of Harley Davison between 2005 and 2009 started with them as a freight lift operator, whilst the CEO of Xerox started her career with the company as a field sales rep. But there’s no reason why any size of company can’t develop a leadership development strategy.
So how do you identify future leaders?
Here are some traits to look for:-
Proactivity – does the person make suggestions for improvement and activity to try to extend their remit?
Making things happen – some people are content to sit back and get carried along by others’ decisions. Identify those who take decisions and drive projects forward.
Taking responsibility – things don’t always go right. Someone who is strong enough to admit mistakes – and come up with solutions to address them – may have the makings of your next leader.
Great communication – look for the ability to convey ideas clearly – and to listen effectively to any suggestions made back to them.
High emotional intelligence – does this person have empathy with their team, help others, take time to build relationships?
Finally, you need to look beyond performance – how they are doing now – to their future potential. Is there a desire to better themselves? Are they prepared to invest time in their self-development?
If you have identified someone with potential and the right traits, you need to help that individual realise their potential. By identifying the gaps and giving support to fill them – whether via formal training courses, development programmes or educational exams, mentoring or job shadowing – companies of all sizes can ensure that tomorrow’s leaders will rise from the employees who are working for them today.
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