Leadership development 101

So… you’d like to implement a leadership development programme but aren’t quite sure where to start?

Start with your business’ strengths and weaknesses in terms of succession.

Your backup

If your business has a pretty flat structure, and you are the key person, do you have a reliable 2IC who could step up if you were away for a while? Is there someone backing them up who could also step up?

If you do, consider these people in terms of their leadership qualities. Would you like to see them stretch further? If so, you already have the bones of a leadership programme – why not talk to these people about how you see their development and listen to what they have to say. Together, you can put together a development plan to strengthen the immediate leadership succession.

The team

Widen your focus to take in the rest of the team. Do you spot obvious leadership qualities? Maybe there’s some potential there but it’s not exactly blossoming yet?

Go back to your business’ strengths and weaknesses. Are there weak spots where you want to lift performance generally or where there’s always a drama if someone goes on leave? Consider whether it is feasible to give people a chance with aspects of the business they haven’t previously experienced. Is there room for rotation or job sharing? This can broaden team members’ vision of the business and their skill base. Develop their self-confidence along with their competence and see if growing initiative and leadership capability follows. Share information about the business and actively seek your team’s ideas on the business. Be open to creative approaches to decision making and problem solving.

The aim of a leadership programme is not to push people in at the deep end. Sink or swim is a sure way to flatten most people’s confidence and keep their aspirations close to the ground. And it poses an unacceptable risk for your business.

Trust your team. Encourage them to take on more responsibility and give them feedback on how they do with it. Have systems in place that they can refer to. Support and guide them so that you’re not pushing them in at the deep end. Once you have your team on track, you might just be able to trust them enough to step back for a moment and enjoy a little time to yourself.


Communication and leadership

Communication is fundamental to leadership. As a leader yourself, your clear communication is the foundation to inspire, challenge, inform, guide and advise. How you communicate is one of your most important tools to model leadership for your team. It’s important that you’re open, willing to listen to your team, fielding queries and suggestions. Your team will need to try things out, stretch and develop, take risks with tasks and techniques they may not have tried before. Be there to help them assess the likely risks in what they’re doing, point out things they may not have considered and encourage them to aim high.

Serious about your success?