So, you have identified a superstar employee at your organization. They started out as an exemplary beginner and were quick to grasp the expectations of their role and job responsibilities. Over time, they had no problem meeting their targets. Their managers were impressed and promoted them to a higher-level position on the team.
Once again, this top performer exceeded expectations. They continued crushing their targets and putting great numbers on the board. They’ve also shown superb alignment to your business’ vision and goals.
The next logical step would be to promote them to a managerial position, right? Wrong.
A leader is much more than an exceptionally high-performing employee. Effective management demands a unique set of skills—skills that even extraordinary individual contributors don’t always have.
In most cases, these skills need to be consciously developed. Which begs the question, why would you expend time and money developing a leader internally when you can simply hire someone from outside who already has the management skills you need?
The Benefits of Developing Leaders From Inside Your Organization
While formal leadership development may initially seem pricy and unnecessary, evidence points to the contrary. Consider this: finding a new hire, even an employee who works for $8 an hour, can cost your business as much as $3,500 in direct and indirect turnover costs. Now, scale that up and imagine how much it would cost to hire an expensive leadership resource. Promoting and developing an employee who has already proven their worth and commitment to the organization can be a much less costly undertaking than hiring someone from outside.
Another benefit of developing leaders from within your organization is that these leaders need a relatively shorter period of time to transition into their new role when compared to an outsider. Not to forget, the demands and expectations of a home-grown leader will probably be much more manageable than those of someone who has worked in a leadership position in other organizations.
Finally, another benefit of developing leaders from within the ranks of your employees is that there will be no risk of a culture clash with your new leaders. They come into the role understanding the company culture and values because they’ve already been fully integrated into the organization.
Hiring a new and qualified resource can be a quick solution when you desperately need to fill a management position, but if you have the time to spare, developing current high-potential employees into the leaders you’ll need tomorrow can be a carefully planned process and one that is designed to work in tandem with your organization’s evolving goals.
Now that we understand the benefits of in-house leadership development, here are a few tips to get you started.
Leadership: More Than Just Technical Skills
Leaders are expected to possess capabilities beyond the technical skills required to excel at their jobs. Here are a few tips that will help your future leaders be more than just technically proficient.
1) Communicate Your Intentions
Before you begin training your future leaders, it is important to ensure that they are aware of your plans. Imagine how confusing it would be to be ushered into a training program without understanding why.
By properly communicating your plans for them, you can motivate your future leaders to give their best in the training they are about to receive.
When they see the relevance of the skills they are learning to their day-to-day jobs (and to the growth of your organization), they will find themselves motivated to perform well in the training, without compromising their performance in their current roles.
2) Pay Attention to Soft Skills
As we mentioned earlier, leaders must possess true leadership (or “soft”) skills in addition to technical skills. Soft skills—like the ability to effectively communicate, build trust, delegate responsibilities, and develop ownership in others—are critical to a leader’s success. Effective leadership-development programs must include soft skills.
3) Create an Immersive Training Experience
Providing a well-rounded training experience extends beyond simply effectively communicating your intentions and providing high-quality curriculum. To provide a truly holistic training experience, you will need a learning-management system (LMS), a cloud-based tool designed to store and distribute primarily self-paced training material. However, an LMS can do much more than that.
Modern learning-management systems come loaded with features that make training an engaging and enjoyable experience. For instance, Litmos LMS, an industry-leading product, offers features like gamification and AR/VR support that make training more memorable and impactful. Litmos LMS reviews are all raving about how easy these features are to implement, and how effective they are.
In addition to these types of features, the cloud-based aspect of LMS also enables you to provide training without affecting your future leaders’ current professional responsibilities; they can learn from anywhere they have access to an internet connection.
4) Gradually Delegate Responsibilities
While your employees are being prepared for their bright future in leadership with formal training, it is also a good idea to throw some extra work responsibilities their way now and then.
This way, they will learn how to deal with unexpected circumstances, something no other form of training can teach. On-the-job training will also enable them to employ and practice the skills they learn in their training program, helping them to see the immediate relevance and applicability of the new skills they’re learning.
5) Develop a Transparent and Consistent Feedback Mechanism
To be successful with leadership training, having a solid feedback mechanism is essential. Your objective should be to be able to freely communicate relevant feedback with your future leaders in a timely way.
However, make sure you are careful when crafting these communications or having these conversations. Being too harsh may put you at risk of discouraging your learners. It is also a great idea to remember that feedback can be negative or positive but should always be constructive.
6) Consider Personal Mentorship
Personal mentorship is one of the fastest ways to grow, not just as a leader, but in any aspect of life and business.
Providing high-potential employees with mentors can help you achieve better results with your leadership training while cutting down on the time it takes your organization to produce a new leader.
The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to hire a professional business mentor or coach for this role (unless you want to, of course). Current leaders and managers at your organization have invaluable and relevant insights that they can use to mentor the organization’s future leaders and they are often glad to be part of the process.
Developing leaders within your organization has many benefits, and with the right kind of planning, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming undertaking.
What’s stopping you from starting your own leadership-development program? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Guest Post Written by Costa. CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers, and editors with extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas they are focused on. All posts are peer-reviewed by CMOE.